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UNs Ban Picks 4 Softballs, Egypt & Syria, No DRC or Haiti, Heads to S. Korea

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 19 -- When UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon did a belated press "encounter" at UN headquarters on Monday, one expected him to have to answer for what the UN actually does (and doesn't do) with its 100,000 peacekeepers in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti and now Mali. But no.

In Haiti, it has become increasingly clear Ban's UN brought cholera and killed 8,000 people. On Friday, the Washington Post editorialized for the second time, specifically calling Ban's office's reply non-responsive. But Ban did not mention it, nor did any of the four questions selected by Ban's spokesperson.

  In a speech Monday morning, Ban bragged about his supposed Human Rights Due Diligence Policy. But in the DRC, his peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous still supports the Congolese 391st Battalion, implicated in 135 rapes in Minova and since then desecration of corpses.

  But Ban didn't mention this; nor did any of the four questions selected. (Ladsous' spokesperson or spoon-feeder in chief Kieran Dwyer was in the room, and quite happy afterward. Ladsous refuses Press questions on these topics.)

  In Mali, the coup leader Sanogo has been made a general, and the UN has said nothing. Nor did Ban, nor did the questioners.

  Instead, the first question was given to UNCA, now known as the UN Censorship Alliance, and was wasted on a garbled softball question about Egypt. Ban was allowed to say he "finally" sent his envoy Jeffrey Feltman, which is the spin belatedly spoon-fed on August 16 to Reuters (which also "feeds" the UN, click here for that.)

  But as shown by Inner City Press on August 15 with audio, Feltman's trip was planned and arranged BEFORE the August 14 killing of hundreds of protesters.

  There was the obligatory question about chemical weapons in Syria, and one about a bone Ban threw over the weekend about discrimination against Israel. (This questioner to his credit pressed to follow-up).

 There was a question about the election in Zimbabwe -- a fine question, at least on Africa where most of the UN's work is, but not a country in which the UN has a peacekeeping mission or does much beyond covering up the spread of disease and then punishing whistleblowers.

  And then it was over. Ban insisted on calling his upcoming to South Korea an "official trip" and not a vacation. But Inner City Press long ago emailed Ban's spokesperson's office to ask for his position on the civil society movement to demilitarize Jeju Island there. No answer on that.

  It had been said that Ban would hold month press conference with more than four questions. It has not happened, but UNCA (formally the UN Correspondents Association) has done or said nothing. (We note, for fairness if nothing else, that UNCA's 2013 president Pamela Falk was not the one throwing UNCA's Monday softball, was not here for August 15 on Egypt either.)

  The new Free UN Coalition for Access, established in part to defend journalists from attacks by the UN and its UN Censorship Alliance, will now expand work on this. (Here is UN's reaction.) Watch @FUNCA_info and this site.


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