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A soiree with a serious agenda

The rich, famous and powerful cheerfully dole out $15K apiece on behalf of Bill Clinton's global aid initiative.

September 22, 2006|Tina Daunt | Times Staff Writer

Abaunza held court at a small table in the center of the party. Hip-hop king Russell Simmons stopped by to discuss the violent diamond trade. She asked him if she could set up a private screening of the movie "Blood Diamond" for him. "Our hope is this movie will have a profound impact on the issue," she said. "It will do what 'Hotel Rwanda' did." A few minutes later, Ormond stopped by her table to discuss human trafficking. "There's a senator I want you to meet," Ormond told Abaunza. "He's great on this."

The actress then walked off to greet Clinton, who had finally arrived at the party.

Abaunza observed: "This is what it's all about. It's a convergence of people all coming together to figure out the best way to work together to impact global issues."

20,000 rally for Darfur relief

Amnesty International declared Sept. 17 a "Global Day for Darfur," and 20,000 people turned out for a Central Park rally, which coincided with the opening of the 61st United Nations session.

Oscar winner Mira Sorvino took the stage with Madeleine Albright, who was secretary of State in the Clinton administration, calling on the people of the world to step in to help end the violence, which has claimed the lives of at least 200,000 in the Darfur region of Sudan, where ethnic African tribes revolted against the Arab-led government three years ago. (The government is accused of unleashing brutal Arab militiamen known as the janjaweed.)

The U.N. Security Council has approved a peacekeeping force of 22,600 troops, but no deadline has been set to deploy them.

"Our concerns have to be humanitarian," Albright told the crowd. "There are other things going on in the world besides Iraq, there are more people dying in Darfur than anywhere. People are more important than oil."

Sorvino called on the United Nations to act, in a speech in New York and then later in Washington, where she addressed lawmakers on Wednesday.

"We stand at a critical crossroads in the Darfur crisis," the actress told members of Congress. "We must not allow a security void to open at the end of the month.... This would be tantamount to condoning the slaughter of civilians who would be left completely vulnerable to janjaweed and government violence. The U.N. peacekeeping troops must be allowed to take over the mission as planned in October."

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