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Ban Ki-moon Q&A Goes Soft on Yemen, No Haiti or US Issues, NPC Mug

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 16 -- For two days, the UN promoted Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's appearance at the National Press Club, telling reporters at the UN they could watch it on CSPAN.

 It was ironic, because Ban Ki-moon has done only one question and answer session at UN Headquarters this year, with the questions clearly handpicked (on Yemen, only the Saudi / Gulf perspective, for example, as the new Free UN Coalition for Access has complained.)

   But at the National Press Club, the choosing of questions was more stealth: they were to be written out by hand - clearly - and passed forward on cards.

   As selected, there were no questions about any problem in the United States, from police brutality to NSA spying. Nor about the UN, such as impunity for bringing cholera to Haiti, or cover up rapes in Darfur and the DR Congo.

 In fact, the UN official responsible for those cover up, UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous, was on the NPC podium with Ban. In New York, Ladsous refuses to answer any Press questions. Video here, Vine here.

   Ban's prepared speech mentioned his Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura -- trashed by guest of the UN Censorship Alliance on April 16, here -- but not Jamal Benomar, who resigned on April 15.

 Inner City Press has reported that Saudi Arabia pushes for Benomar to go, and now want to hand pick his successor, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who had a weak record when in Yemen before and who's said to have links with a fishing business with Gulf funders. Click here for that - and Inner City Press' additional scoop on other names floated for the post in the UN: Martin Kobler and Lisa Buttenheim.

  The first question was a softball, Has diplomacy lived up to its promise? Ban seemed to answer yes. On Syria, he repeated word for word what was in his prepared speech. On climate change he grew animated, saying he'll go visit the Pope in Rome this month about the issue.

   Soon the soft Q&A was over; Ban was given a mug, and mugged for the (YouTube) camera while recounting his conversation with Daniel Craig (licensed to save, 008, saved you a click).

 The lack of seriousness of the questions would at best appear to indicate that the attendees don't think the UN is a serious organization. Then Ban took his mug out into the Washington evening. Fade to black.


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