Runaway Spoon

Fashion & Politics On The Runway & The Front Burner

June 20, 2018

Dr. Ivonn Szeverenyi is presented birthday bouquet from Csaba Kael, CEO, Palace of Arts Budapest. On far left is Hungarian Amb. Szabo. (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Dr. Ivonn Szeverenyi is presented birthday bouquet from Csaba Kael, CEO, Palace of Arts Budapest. On far left is Hungarian Amb. Szabo.

Breathtaking haute couture from Hungary?  Who would’ve guessed?

Heads up: New York/Milan/Paris.   Hungary is challenging.

The Washington premiere of  Katti Zoób fashion was on display during a runway show Tuesday at the Hungarian Embassy in Washington,  D.C.  The models --  all from Hungary -- wore stunning capes, flowing evening gowns,  coats and tops of many colors,  but the predominant shade was mainly sophisticated black for evening wear.

Most of the clothes bore the distinct touch of classic Old World Hungary –  born again in the 21st Century.

Aniko Gaal Schott (l) with Katti Zoob, Michelle Belliveau & show stealer Zsuzsu with (Photo by: Michelle Belliveau) Aniko Gaal Schott (l) with Katti Zoob, Michelle Belliveau & show stealer Zsuzsu with

This oft-elaborate fashion is structured for those who want to make a Wow statement when they enter a ballroom.  Definitely not for wall flowers.

Among the models were a few kids, and of course, kids always are show stealers, especially the ambassador and his wife's young daughter Zsuzsu, who nonchalantly walked with a pacifier while wearing a fancy dress. 

The reception for 200+ guests also celebrated the conclusion of Hungary’s presidency of the Visegrád Group, a cultural and political alliance of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia.

It’s all part of the diplomatic mission of Hungary’s ambassador Dr. László Szabo and his wife, Dr.  Ivonn Szeverényi, to introduce Hungarian commerce and culture to the United States.  Just by chance, it also was the birthday of Dr. Szeverenyi.  Participating  among the fashion models were the couple’s two young daughters.

The show’s organizers included  public relations guru Aniko Gaal Schott, who the ambassador described as “the social animal of the city.”

And the Hungarian music  played on. (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) And the Hungarian music played on.

Earlier in the day, the ambassador hosted a salon for journalists to discuss Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s reelected government and Hungarian-American relations, among other topics.

When asked about the phone call President Trump made to Orban on Saturday, the ambassador said the two leaders saw eye-to-eye on illegal immigration.

“President Trump … spoke about the importance of border protection and agreed that a country that cannot defend its own borders is no longer a country,” according to the embassy which issued a statement.

“The prime minister ensured the president that Hungary is committed to continuing its migration policy and protecting Hungary’s borders…Orban stressed that it is important to Hungary for the European Union to win backs its competitiveness, considering that almost 80 percent of the country’s exports go to other EU member states.”

Fashion on Parade (Photo by: Embassy of Hungary) Fashion on Parade

So what, in his words, “pisses off “ Szabo in undiplomatic ways nowadays?   

“When we are accused of'" following policies that we don’t, said Szabo.  “…a shining example is when we are called far right;” he named  the Washington Post and New York Times as prime culprits.

He said Hungary is a democratic nation that has close economic and cultural ties to the United States. That relationship, he said, has improved from when President Obama was at the White House. 

It was clear there will be few tears shed in Hungary if German Chancellor Angela Merkel is ousted. Dr. Agoston Samuel Mráz, CEO of Central European Perspectves, said in his remarks: “if Merkel is gone…it would be a victory for Mr. Orban…the change would be a good message for Hungary.”

Hungary has tightened its borders to reduce the flow of illegal immigrants into the country.


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Display of U.S.-Japan Baseball History Hits Homer this All-Star Season

June 14, 2018

Written by Dick Barnes

Cheers to baseball (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Cheers to baseball

A fascinating look at 1½ centuries of U.S.-Japan baseball is available downtown during this All-Star season.

Today’s American baseball fan, like me, knows about Japanese players such as future Hall-of-Famer Ichiro Suzuki, just retired from the Seattle Marinersand rookie sensation Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels, who have come here to star in Major League Baseball. But few of us know the seeds of that international exchange were laid a century and a half ago when American advisors to the Japanese government brought their then-new game to Japan as recreation.

The Embassy of Japan’s Information and Culture Center is telling the story of baseball in Japan through an exhibition of memorabilia, documents, and narrative that is free and open to the public in downtown DC through August 10. The exhibition is open Monday through Friday except holidays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Center is at 1150 18th Street NW; its street-level entrance is just to the right of the main building entrance.

Kenichi Kobayashi (left), chats with Josh Stanka in front of memorabilia that Stanka made available for the exhibition. (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Kenichi Kobayashi (left), chats with Josh Stanka in front of memorabilia that Stanka made available for the exhibition.

At a preview on Wednesday, Josh Stanka, grandson of an American who played most of his career in Japan, described portions of the exhibition that he made available from his personal collection. His favorite item is a game ball from the final game of the 1964 Japan Series that he pointed out to Kenichi Kobayashi, the Embassy of Japan's Minister for Economic Affairs. His grandfather, Joe Stanka, was Most Valuable Player of that championship.

Adam Berenbak, a baseball memorabilia collector with professional expertise as an archivist at the National Archives, curated the exhibition. Old documents illustrate how early competition between the countries focused on college games. For example, Wasada University played at Stanford in 1905 and the University of Wisconsin played games in Japan in 1909.

Adam Berenbak, baseball memorabilia collector & archivist at the National Archives, discusses an element of the exhibition that he curated. (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Adam Berenbak, baseball memorabilia collector & archivist at the National Archives, discusses an element of the exhibition that he curated.

A tour in 1934 by a U.S. All Star team that included Babe Ruth ultimately helped spur the creation of a Japanese professional league in 1936.  World War II intervened, but after the war, U.S. occupation authorities focused on baseball as a social tool to rebuild the country’s morale, according to Dr. Yukako Tatsumi of the University of Maryland’s Gordon W. Prange Collection of occupation-era publications; she compiled materials from the Collection for the exhibition. U.S. professional teams began touring Japan again in 1949.

In 1964, Masanori Murakami, the first player from Japan to appear in the majors, joined the San Francisco Giants in mid-season. He pitched well, but returned to Japan in 1965 as the result of a contract dispute between the Giants and his Japanese team.

Takehiro Shimada, Minister of Communications & Cultural Affairs at the embassy (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Takehiro Shimada, Minister of Communications & Cultural Affairs at the embassy

As a young reporter for The Associated Press in San Francisco, I recall writing the story of Murakami’s coming to the Giants.

It was another 31 years before another Japanese player, pitcher Hideo Nomo, came from Japan to the majors with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Josh Stanka said Monday that his grandfather was involved in getting Murakami to the U.S., “but he messed up so much diplomatically that no other Japanese player came for another 30 years.”

Takehiro Shimada, the Minister for Communications and Cultural Affairs, announced that an exhibition public special event on July 20, three days after the Major League All-Star Game in Washington, will feature Murakami, now 74. 

Dr. Yukako Tasumi of the Gordon W. Prange Collection at the U. of Maryland (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish ) Dr. Yukako Tasumi of the Gordon W. Prange Collection at the U. of Maryland

 


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Fighting Abuse Wherever It Happens

May 24, 2018

As CARE’s Global Leaders Network gave its Humanitarian Award to Canadian Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, speaker after speaker underscored the importance of continuing to save lives and assist the underserved around the world -- with a special emphasis on assisting women in all walks of life.

Sally Yates at CARE National Conference (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Sally Yates at CARE National Conference

Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, traveled from Canada to accept the award from CARE CEO Michelle Nunn and CARE board member Michele Flournoy.  Bibeau has been in the forefront for many years seeking betterment of young women everywhere.

“Minister Bibeau … has been a staunch advocate of the fact that inequality and the denial of human rights are an assault on all humanity – no matter where they occur,” said Gillian Barth, president and CEO of CARE Canada.

The reception at the Canadian embassy -- with 150 guests -- was part of the philanthropic organization’s 2018 CARE National Conference that stressed CARE’s focus on the education, health and safety of young women and forming an allegiance with the worldwide anti-sexual abuse movements.

Canadian Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau (right) receives Global Leaders Network Humanitarian Award from Michele Flournoy (Photo by: Neshan H. Naltchayan) Canadian Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau (right) receives Global Leaders Network Humanitarian Award from Michele Flournoy

On Monday, former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, a guest speaker at the CARE conference, appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and praised the “Me Too” advancements. She said women are more attuned to speaking up about sexual harassment/abuse they suffered in the workplace and domestically.   “…women are not going to take this anymore…,” she said in support of recent movements to stop the awful practice. 

CARE, too,is putting a fine supportive point on the movement.

“For more than 70 years, the United States has led efforts to promote peace, prosperity, and share values to foster global stability,” said Michelle Nunn. “But recently that legacy has been under threat.

Sam Nunn (left) chatting with Adm. Gary Roughead (Photo by: Neshan H. Naltchayan) Sam Nunn (left) chatting with Adm. Gary Roughead

“CARE’s work in 94 countries -- helping refugees, victims of famine and the poorest – saves lives, reduces the factors that lead to extremism and helps the most vulnerable recover and rebuild after disaster.”

Through personal visits to Capitol Hill and networking, CARE is actively fighting to stop cuts in federal funds to global humanitarian causes.

Among the guests was Alicia, a native of Ecuador and now an adult, who as a child was mistreated at the hands of her South American employers. Through its dignified work initiative, CARE supports women’s groups…throughout Ecuador, aiming to give voice to women domestic workers “whose employers have so long silenced them.”

CARE supporter Dr. Mary Jan Bancroft, founder of Make Way for Books, told of working with hundreds of educators, preschools and child-care centers, especially in low-income communities.

Michelle Nunn at CARE reception (Photo by: Neshan H. Naltchayan) Michelle Nunn at CARE reception

Tony Blinken, who was Deputy Secretary of State in the Obama Administration and is co-founder of WestExec Advisors with Michèle Flournoy, said young people he has spoken with in his travels to 40 nations are impressed with the high degree of voluntarism in the USA, which could be interpreted, to some extent, as “people trying to do something larger than themselves.”

Joe Ruiz, director of humanitarian programming at the UPS Foundation, announced that UPS is raising its financial commitment to CARE by several hundred thousand dollars to $850,000.  The foundation has supported CARE for more than two decades. Over the past year, he said, UPS has been involved in great programs to provide life-saving blood to women after experiencing difficult births.

Admiral Gary Roughead, former U.S. chief of naval operations, said that “generations from now, the work that CARE is doing now will be remembered….stay the course.”

Gillian Barth (l), Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau & CARE's Chairman of the Board Martha Brooks (Photo by: Neshan H. Naltchayan) Gillian Barth (l), Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau & CARE's Chairman of the Board Martha Brooks


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