Tag Archives: United Nations Association of Southwestern Connecticut

Westport Celebrates World Press Freedom Day

Alert “06880” reader Mark Friedman — an RTM representative, and founder of iheartfreedomofthepress.com — writes:

As a child of the 1970s, I watched Superman cartoons. He worked tirelessly for “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.”

Somewhere along the way (in law school?), I came to accept that people would not soon jump tall buildings in a single bound. But I also developed an abiding gratitude for the rights protected by the Constitution of the United States — in particular, our First Amendment freedoms.

World Press Freedom Day is tomorrow (Friday, May 3). Westport honors this day with a 3:30 p.m. event at Town Hall.

Mark Friedman, at Westport’s Memorial Day parade.

Westporter Bill Haas of the UN Association of SW CT will moderate a panel discussion considering the impact of money, politics and censorship on press freedom.  Participants include Congressman Jim Himes, Francesca Procaccini of Yale Law School, Michael DeDora of Committee to Protect Journalists, and myself.

Westport — known for its artistic influences and commitment to freedom of expression — strikes me as the perfect place for this event.

At a time when governments worldwide jail hundreds of journalists, and the US is ranked 48th worldwide in terms of press freedoms, Westport seems especially equipped to provide the intellectual and moral leadership, given its ethos of service — both locally and globally.

I encourage Westporters to attend Friday’s event. I also ask us everyone to consider Nelson Mandela’s reflection on press freedom:

A critical, independent and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy.  The press must be free from state interference.  It must have the economic strength to stand up to the blandishments of government officials.  It must have sufficient independence from vested interests to be bold and inquiring without fear or favor.

Westporters have a significant role to play in protecting Truth, Justice, and the American Way. And as a certain Marvel superhero reminds us, with great power comes great responsibility.

Iran, The US, The UN — And Westport

By the time Alex Anvari was 9 years old, he spoke 3 languages: English, French and Farsi.

His parents had met at the University of Illinois when his father was a Ph.D. candidate from the Middle East; his mother was a Midwestern undergrad.

Alex’s father’s job in academia brought the family to his native Iran. Alex played soccer in the streets, learning the language and culture of his new country.

His classmates at Tehran International School came from 35 countries. “We were just like the UN,” Alex says.

Alex Anvari (right), in jUNe Day soccer action.

So it was natural, when he moved to Westport in 1992 — he worked in “the Oracle economy” — to play in the jUNe Day soccer game pitting local players against UN guests. Soon, Alex was running the event.

He made occasional trips back to Iran, where family members still lived. While Americans have long been fascinated by the country — its fascinating history, the larger-than-life stories of the shah, its longtime role with Israel as a “policeman of the Gulf” — he’s had an up-front-and-personal view of it.

So he’s excited to be moderating an event — sponsored by the United Nations Association of Southwestern Connecticut — a week before UN Day.

Set for Town Hall (Wednesday, October 17, 12 p.m.), it’s a conversation with Dina Esfandiary, international security fellow at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

They’ll talk about Middle East geopolitics, the role of the UN regarding Iran’s nuclear deal, US foreign policy, and business strategy after American sanctions.

“06880”‘s tagline is “Where Westport meets the world.” Alex Anvari is one Westporter who has done that all his life.