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Who Picked Ban's Google+ Hangout Guests, Soft on UN, No Cholera or War Crimes Qs?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 10, updated -- Partnering and not for the first time with Google, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday afternoon took scripted questions over YouTube and Google+ from six young people, up to 29 years of age, from the US, Kenya, UK, Brazil and Sri Lanka.

It was unclear how the questioners were selected. (Inner City Press submitted this as a question, but it was not answered by the end or this publication.) The youth jobs question came from the self-proclaimed owner of a technology company receiving investment from a Hong Kong billionaire.

A questioner from Nairobi, Kenya -- from where there appeared to be two -- asked how to avoid discrimination by ethnicity while combating terrorism. While this might seem to refer to crackdowns on ethnic Somalis when Kenyan including soldiers suffer losses to Al Shabaab, Ban's answer was to tout the UN's bureaucratic CTITF, then thank Kenyan "women and men" as troops in Somalia.

The UN is under fire for having brought cholera into Haiti and then refused to acknowledge or try to make amends for it. Inner City Press wondered, including online, whether the "hang out" would include this Haiti cholera question, about which Inner City Press also asked at the day's noon briefing.

Ban, as it happened, brought up Haiti but largely to praise the band Linkin Park. When they came to the UN, Inner City Press asked some band members about the complaints of Haitians against the UN, but the band did not answer.

It appears that Linkin Park, like Google or at least the executive who moderated the hangout, vaguely believe the UN to be only good, that promoting the UN without any questioning or accountability is a good thing in itself.

Perhaps most strikingly, this small Google+ plus hangout included a youth (of 27 years old) in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Despite the controversy about the UN there, with many Tamils feeling sold out by the UN and Ban, and Sinhalese nationalists denouncing the UN Human Rights Council for its recent vote, the question was about Rio + 20, from a UN Volunteer. Who selected this guests? The question remains.

Through the UN site and otherwise, Inner City Press asked again how Ban can say nothing about having as an adviser on peacekeeping Shavendra Silva, whose 58th Division is depicted in Ban's own Panel of Experts report as engaged in war crimes, and why Ban's "minders" now seek to hinder press coverage of this. The question itself has led to pushback, and was asked again at Tuesday's noon briefing. Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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