Bedbugs Now In Press Briefing Room & Al Jazeera, Fleas in Basement
Russell Lee, Exclusive
November 16, updated: following report of fleas in UN basement by Inner
City Press and questions, UN has confirmed the fleas. On bedbugs in the
briefing room and Al Jazeera, the fumigation will not happen until
With the UN still refusing to disclose the
results of the bedbug tests in did after the pests' presence was
exposed, first by Inner City Press, on the evening of November 15 a
bedbug sniffing dog inspected the press briefing room in the Dag
Hammarskjold Library auditorium.
witnessed it, including meeting and petting the dog, a Jack Russell
named Jack. He found bedbugs on chairs in the briefing room, which
the UN now says “have been cordoned off.” Bedbugs were also
discovered in the studios of Al Jazeera on the second floor, AFTER
the studios of BBC and NHK had been fumigated. The press corps is
an uproar. But the fumigation planned as of 6:50 pm on November 16 is
only of the briefing room and Al Jazeera (not the whole second floor),
and not until Nov. 20.
have been found in the UN. In the publications area, for example, the
talk has been of fleas. On November 15, Inner City Press asked New York
City Mayor Bloomberg a question about the UN's refusal to comply with
NYC laws, including on bedbugs and even food safety. This last was an
inquiry begun on November 1, when Inner City Press asked UN Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky:
Press: in New York now, the Health Department has a system under
which the representing letter grades for health. They inspect
restaurants and any other food facility. And apparently they have…
they do inspect… I wasn’t aware of this, but they inspect the
UNICEF cafeteria and the DC-One cafeteria, and both have received
grades that would be B or in one case C. What I am wondering is
whether the facility here in UN Headquarters, does the UN consider
this to be outside of that system of health inspections, and if so
what can it say about the… given, across the street what the grades
are? And also, not to say that the two are related, but what
interface has there been with the city government on this bedbug
issue and what update can you provide as to the tests that you said
last week were being performed in various locations, some here, some
out, including one that was supposedly going to be done and or may
soon be done on the 2nd floor? So it’s the food issue, and then
the bedbug issue.
Well, on the second, I don’t have an update, and let’s
see if we can get one. I don’t have an update. But I do know, as
you yourself have said, you’ve been in direct touch with the
relevant people from Facilities Management Service. I am sure that
if you wanted to, you could do the same again. But for the benefit
of others, of course, and for you as well, we’ll see if there is an
update. On the first part, health inspections, I would defer to my
colleagues who liaise with the city authorities. I don’t know the
answer to that.
Press: Should I follow up with them or can you [inaudible]?
As I said, I will see what we can find out.
later added that Aramark said that the cafeteria at
United Nations Headquarters was not being inspected.]
response, which was never directly provided to Inner City Press but
only read out over a speaker system that is not audible in the areas
Inner City Press covers in the day, gives rise to these questions,
basis are the UN's cafeteria facility at UNICEF and the UN's
cafeteria in the DC building inspected, but the UN cafeteria not
inspected? Is it a legal basis?
UN's main cafeteria not being inspected because the UN is
forbidding the inspection?
SG have an objection to NYC inspectors visiting the UN cafeteria?
Doesn't the UN allow inspections from the Fire Department of the UN
* * *
Korean Press Wars & Bed Bugs in BBC & NHK, No Q&A
With Ban in Seoul
9 -- The UN's relations with the Press range from
bugs to snubs to turf wars. Since the middle of Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon's trip to China, the UN press corps has been full of
questions why Ban didn't mention the recent Nobel Peace Prize winner
Liu Xiaobo. Major media outlets asked Ban's spokesman about the
omission day after day.
he did not hold any regular press conference. Rather he appeared one
morning at 9 am to speak about climate change. When nevertheless a
China and human rights question was asked -- albeit one that did not
mention Liu Xiaobo -- Ban read from prepared notes that he had
mentioned human rights three times in China.
the days after
that, still no press Q&A with Mr. Ban Ki-moon. Then after holding a
press availability only for the Korean media he left for
the G-20 meeting in his native South Korea. On November 9 his acting
Deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq announced that Ban would be holding a
press conference -- in Seoul.
the press area of UN headquarters, on the second floor of the Dag
Hammarskjold Library, there was also on the night of November 8 a
belated test for bed bugs. Inner City Press broke the bed bugs story,
last year about the UN's “swing space” on 46th Street and last
month in the basement of the Library and then elsewhere.
on the Library's first floor and third floor -- where UN
Under Secretary General for Management Angela Kane is based -- but
not on the second, where the Press offices are. Ban's spokesman
Martin Nesirky explained to Inner City Press that tests are based on
requests. So a request was made.
some 90% of the cubicles of UN-based media organizations including
this one were subject to a canine test, “no cameras allowed.” On
November 9 the results were released: two offices were infected,
those of BBC and NHK Broadcasting. We'll leave readers to draw their
in Seoul Ban
Ki-moon prepared for the press conference he didn't hold in New York,
on the same second floor of the Dag Hammarskjold Libary a turf war
was breaking out. In what was previously in the Secretariat called
the J or Japanese Room, the “K” or Korean wing is said to often
Ban at Republic of Korean pavillion in Shanghai, bugs not shown
reporter for Japanese media moved in to fill the void, due to limited
space for her media. A few verbal altercations ensued, until the UN's
Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit was called in. MALU has a rule
that media must be at the UN three days a week to have an office.
some of the
Korean media it is alleged -- and even admitted -- that the three day
test is not met. The perception among numerous correspondents is that
the Korean media is protected, by Ban Ki-moon and his senior adviser
Kim Won-soo. (In fact, a story is told of Mr. Kim proffering a deal
to UN reporters, to get Korean outlets space.)
avoiding the UN press corps, any attempt to question the status or
presence of Korean media organizations will inevitably be seen as
more than bureaucratic. And so a fight impends.
who question this piece's focus on Seoul then the Korean
media, it is worth noting that this year's UN Day concerts was even
more Korea heavy that previously reported. A Korean symphony played,
sponsored by Korean Broadcasting, begun by a video touting the
wonders of Korea. Afterward, Inner City Press got a text message that
Ban surfaced at a reception at the Korean Mission just across from
the UN. Amid the bed bugs and unanswered questions, there is more
and more grumbling. Watch this site.
* * *
Stops on Park Ave at CFR, Coups, Cases & Debt Scoffed At,
Osama Likened to Che Guevara
9 -- Pervez Musharraf is on a roll, or thinks he
is. After launching his All Pakistan Muslim League in the UK, he has
held roll out events in hotel ballrooms in Florida and New Jersey.
morning found him at the Council on Foreign Relations in
Manhattan, fielding questions about how and why he plans to reclaim
power in Islamabad.
own praises, that after his 1999 “coming into power” -- as his
CFR biography tactfully puts in it -- he grew the Pakistani economy
until, he said, it had more promise that India's.
were “stirred up against” him, foreign direct investment has
dried up and 50% of factories have closed, in his telling.
other stories are told, of how Musharraf hurt the electrical power
market, allowed for the first time the US to fly drones over the
country, attacked the judicial system. (Click here for
Press recent coverage of
Pakistan and the International Monetary
Fund, on power subsidies and textile taxes).
are no court cases against him in Pakistan, and that if any
began now it would be “political.” Meanwhile, in his New Jersey
appearance where he took no questions from the media, he accused
Nawaz Sharif of stealing $1 billion and hiding it in London.
CFR questions were taken,
by NPR's Deborah Amos from among “members,” as
she put it. At least one member called on was a journalist, Lawrence
Wright of the New Yorker. The last question was finally given to the
back of the room, but to (at least) 32 year CIA veteran Jack
Devine of the Arkin Group, who
asked about Osama Bin Laden and Pakistan's seven tribal areas.
Laden to Che Guevara, saying the latter was able to evade capture
Musharraf, 9/20/06, before the stir up
He said that
the tribal areas were left undeveloped as a buffer
between Russia and India, there there is “two to three percent
literacy.” Bin Laden “is viewed as their guest,” Musharraf
said, recounting how on one of his visits, he traveled virtually
without security because he was protected as a guest of an elder.
Nation, beyond possible court cases Musharraf has been told not to
return to Pakistan due to a lack of “security arrangements.” This
heralds back to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto when she
returned. The UN's three person investigations panel's report left
open many questions as to Musharraf, but no one raised it at the CFR
was unclear if
Musharraf viewed his appearance as part of his campaign, or more akin
to a speaking tour. He said he's spoken in Hong Kong and is going to
Nigeria, that his son in Palo Alto started his Facebook page on which
he has 350,000 friends. But how many enemies? Watch this site.
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
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.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.
other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]