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Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

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Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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UN Swing Space Blazes in Earth Hour, Fake Recycling Typifies Ban's UN

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 27 -- While the lights were turned out in the empty United Nations Secretariat building for “Earth Hour” on the night of March 26, office and entrance lights were blazing in the nearby buildings where the UN's work is actually done these days.

  During its multi-year Capital Master Plan renovation, the UN has leased office space a block away on 42nd Street and Second Avenue, dubbed the “Luggage Building” or “Above the Liquor Store” for two of the ground floor co-tenants, the Albano Building on 46th Street between First and Second Avenues and elsewhere.

  Between 9 and 9:30 pm on March 26, high Earth Hour while even New York's Times Square was largely dimmed, the Albano Building was lit up as on any other night. More visibly, out on a much traveled corner of 42nd Street, the UN's Luggage Building had many of its lights on.

  The same was true at the UN's “FF Building” on 45th Street, and at 1, 2 and 3 UN Plaza on 44th Street, headquarters to, among others, UNICEF and the UN Development Program.

  This is by no means the only way in which the UN under Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has failed to follow through on the Ban's loudly stated environmental claims, UN staff tells Inner City Press often on condition of anonymity, for fear of retaliation.

  Earlier this month after being approached by numerous whistleblowers, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky for a response to staff complaints that while the garbage in the UN's Luggage Building is separated for recycling, eventually it is all mixed back together and not recycled.

UN Plaza on 1st Ave during Earth Hour, (c) MRLee

  From the UN's own transcript of March 18, 2011 (for what the UN did not transcribe, click here for video) --

Inner City Press: this may seem like a small thing, but the, the several UN staff members that work in what is called the Luggage Building, or whatever it is now being called on 42nd and Second have said that they have concluded after speaking to the Green Focal Point, etcetera, that there is no recycling in the building; that they put the recycling, that they are asked by the UN to put them in separate blue containers and that ultimately everything is put together and dumped. And they have said that they have raised this and have been told that the UN can’t do anything about it. I wonder, I mean, am not expecting you may be to respond from the podium, but they are pretty, they see it as sort of hypocrisy, and I just wonder, maybe, may you or whoever responds to these things can find out if that is the case and if so why it is acceptable?

Spokesperson: Well, let me look into that. I think it is in everybody’s interest to ensure that the recycling is available. Yeah.

Inner City Press: [inaudible] sort of making it appear that it was [inaudible].

Spokesperson Nesirky: As I said, as I said, I would need to look into it to find out what is behind this, if anything, and secondly, the main principle here is that recycling is obviously in everybody’s interest. Right, other questions? then I’ll come back to you, Matthew.

Inner City Press: Okay.

   But more than a week later, Nesirky has yet to provide any response or information. The same stonewalling has been applied to higher profile issues like Ban's envoy to Libya Abdul Ilah Al Khatib being allowed to violate longstanding UN rules and the UN Charter by receiving pay from Jordan's government while ostensibly serving the UN.

A fish rots from the head: and then doesn't get recycled, in today's UN. Watch this site.

Footnote: While Ban's Office of the Spokesperson has refused to provide any information, even telling Inner City Press that its questions will not be answered, Inner City Press has gleened that UN defenders blame the recycling scam on the landlord and / or sanitation contractors.

   But why wasn't recyclying provided for in the UN's contract? Similarly in the UN cafeteria there is extensive use, even for sit down meals, of aluminum and plastic containers. The list goes on. Watch this site.

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UN Now Says Envoy to Libya Khatib Still Has Responsibilities in Jordan, His Contract In Flux Amid Conflicts

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 25 -- After dodging repeated questions about whether UN envoy to Libya Abdul Ilah Al Khatib is still paid by Jordan, where he is a Senator, when Inner City Press again asked the question on March 25, Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq said that “the terms of his contract are still being worked out... he still has some responsibilities in Jordan.”

To some, this implies that contrary to UN charter and rules, Khatib is at the same being paid by and serving a particular government and the UN. Significantly, in Jordan this week water cannons were deployed on protests, leading to the death of at least one protester.

Beyond the financial conflicts of interest, including Khatib being a director of Jordan Ahli Bank which is a co top 20 owners of Union de Banques Arabes et Francaises with Libya Foreign Bank, 100% owned by Gaddafi's Libya Central Bank, why would Secretary General Ban Ki-moon choose as his envoy to Libya the former foreign minister of a country his own advisers describe as an autocracy, which is itself now killing protesters?

Ban & al-Khatib, Jordan pay not shown, Q of Chile housing not answered

Haq also on March 25 said that the decision about what political moves are acceptable to the UN in Libya will be up to Khatib. “Talk about the fox guarding the chicken house,” remarked one wag. The questions will continue to be asked.

From the UN's March 25 transcript:

Inner City Press: on the envoy, yesterday Martin [Nesirky] had said, it’s been going around for a couple of days, is… whether Mr. [Abdul Ilah] Khatib, what is his status with the UN? Is he a USG [Under-Secretary-General]? Is he a staff member? And is he still being paid by the Government of Jordan? It seemed like it shouldn’t be that difficult to get yes or no answers to those three.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: Well, part of the thing is, because of the speed with which we felt the need to appoint an envoy, some of the terms of his contract are still being worked out. So I don’t have any firm answers about the nature of his contract to give right now, because that is being worked out with him. He does have some responsibility still in Jordan, as well as his position here with us.

    What ARE those responsibilities in, and payments from, Jordan? Watch this site.

* * *

UN Envoy Al Khatib Is On Board of Jordan Ahli Bank, Links With Libya Central Bank

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, March 8 -- In selecting Abdul Ilah al Khatib as the UN's envoy on Libya, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon moved quickly -- maybe too quickly.

 Since serving as the foreign minister of Jordan, describe even some close to Ban as an autocracy, al Khatib has served on the boards of director not only of Lafarge Jordan Cement Company but also of Jordan Ahli Bank.

Jordan Ahli Bank is active beyond that country's borders. A sample connection: along with Libyan Foreign Bank, a fully owned subsidiary of the Central Bank of Libya, Jordan Ahli Bank is a top 20 shareholder of Union de Banques Arabes et Francaises.

   Could there be conflicts of interest? Did the UN's Ban administration even consider these?

   Ban previously claimed that 99% of his officials have made public financial disclosure. But when Inner City Press showed this is not true -- even Ban's close ally Choi Young-jin, his envoy in Cote d'Ivoire, declined to make public financial disclosure -- Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky said Ban's statement had been “metaphorical.”

Now Ban names and injects al Khatib into a struggle about democracy and free press, when as Inner City Press noted yesterday

"Foreign Minister Abd al-Ilah al-Khatib in January initiated a criminal defamation suit against weekly newspaper al-Hilal's editor-in-chief Nasir Qamash and journalist Ahmad Salama. He [al-Khatib] objected to the content of a January article, and said his tribe had threatened to beat up Salama if he failed to take action. The case remains in the courts at this writing."

  By what process was al-Khatib vetted and selected? Watch this site.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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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

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