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

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UN Spokesman Dismisses Haiti & Labor Questions, Tells Press to “Shut Up”

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 18 -- Asked questions about the promotion and then disappearance on “Special Leave” of the son in law of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky has for days told Inner City Press to “ask the UN Office of Project Services.”

  Ban's son in law Siddharth Chatterjee was in mid 2009 made the Middle East chief of UNOPS. This month, Inner City Press was told by UNOPS sources that Chatterjee quietly left once he was asked for his educational credentials, and after being described by co-workers as “the furniture” for lack of effectiveness.

  On March 17, after Nesirky during the UN noon media briefing refused to answer a question from Inner City Press by saying it should be dealt with outside of the briefing, Nesirky approached Inner City Press in the UN hallway between the briefing room and the Security Council meeting about Libya.

Nesirky said to Inner City Press, “you should have a little sense of proportion, the bulk of the briefing was you asking questions.”

Inner City Press had asked Nesirky five questions, ranging from Sudan and Myanmar to hiring practices, a statement by Ban about UN rubble removal in Haiti which Nesirky's office “amended” with out explanation, and about the impending pay decrease or firing on March 28 of elevator operators at the UN.

  Nesirky in the hall said, “You asked a question about elevators when the rest of the world is wondering about nuclear meltdown and wondering what's happening in Cote d'Ivoire to tens of thousands of people.”

Just this month, Inner City Press has asked questions about UN labor changes under Ban which are opposed by the UN Staff Union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and now the elevator operators, all without any answers from Nesirky.

  Inner City Press said to Nesirky, referring to the questions about Ban's son in law, “The UNOPS one, you know they didn't write me back.”

  Nesirky said, “They won't.”

Then why do you publicly refer me to UNOPS, when you know they won't answer?”

People don't want to deal with you,” Nesirky said.

While the current UN leadership seems unwilling to answer investigative questions, just over the past week for example, the Permanent Representative of India to the UN called Inner City Press to answer a question, and earlier on March 18, the IMF answered Inner City Press questions about Zimbabwe.

  “I'm going to head back to the Security Council,” Inner City Press said turning away, “where people do seem want to deal with me.” During the Libya meeting, Inner City Press got answers from French foreign minister Alain Juppe and diplomats from Lebanon and Libya, among others.

  Nesirky called after Inner City Press, “if you were concerned about elevator people, I feel for people too.” Saying "I'm choosing my words very carefully here," he continued that he didn't want to criticize the Office of the Spokesperson staff traveling with Ban until he learned why the statement on Haiti had been amended.

  Inner City Press said while that argument had some merit, given how rare or even unprecedented it is to label a revised transcript “amended” instead of “as delivered,” Nesirky might have checked it that morning, before being asked.

  “Shut up,” Nesirky said.

  Ban & Nesirky, questions about Haiti, son in law and elevator operators not shown

After a pause, Inner City Press said “When you have the answer about why your office 'amended' the Haiti answer, just e-mail me.”

In fact, Nesirky and his Office have allowed dozens of questions ranging from Sri Lanka to budget and contracting irregularities to Sudan to the UN offering free flights to an indicted war criminal to build up without offering answers or even acknowledging the e-mailed questions.

   Back in the summer of 2010, he publicly swore at Inner City Press. In January 2011, he told Inner City Press he wouldn't answer any more of its questions.

Inner City Press said, then and now, that it does not believe Nesirky is doing his job.

This is unacceptable,” Nesirky said, concluding “I'm going to have to bring this up with UNCA,” the UN Correspondents Association. Watch this site.

Update: Nesirky and his office have still not provided any answers to the Haiti "amendment," Ban son in law, elevator operator or other questions, 19 hours after Nesirky said he would get the Haiti answer.

* * *

On Haitian Rubble, UN Ban's Estimate Is Amended Overnight, Downplaying Cholera

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 17 -- Bragging to Central American leaders about the UN's performance in post-earthquake Haiti on March 16, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that “by the end of this year we expect roughly half the rubble is being reused, recycled or disposed of an an increasing rate.”

  At least this is what Ban's spokesperson's office e-mailed out to the Press at 6:56 pm on March 16.

Eight hours later at 3:10 am on March 17, Ban's office sent a new version of his Guatemala City remarks, this time portraying Ban has having said only that “The rubble is being reused, recycled or disposed of at an increasing rate.”

  Did Ban's expectation for “roughly half the rubble” change overnight? The new version was labeled “amended,” as if Ban and his remarks were a Constitution or draft resolution such as the one on Libya Ban was missing during his Central American foray.

Ban & his Libya envoy al-Khatib in 2007: who's underestimating?

  Earlier on March 16, Inner City Press had asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky for the UN's response to criticism published that day in The Lancet, saying that the UN had under-estimated Haitian cases of cholera by nearly 100%.

  Both are just estimates, Nesirky replied reading from notes. So what was wrong about the estimate about “roughly half the rubble” that Ban reportedly said in Guatemala City? Watch this site.

Update: on the UN's panel on cholera in Haiti, and its causes, Inner City Press on March 16 asked Nesirky when the report will finally be ready, and if it will be public. Late March or early April, he said, and yes.  We'll see.

  Ban in another foray this year, to Los Angeles, did a "Facebook townhall meeting" about Haiti with the band Linkin Park in which cholera in Haiti and its causes were barely discussed.

  In a recent interview, Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park explained the session: "we got an email from the UN. They were asking if we wanted to do a meeting wiht the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon."

   With Libya on fire, and Haiti under-estimated, who is Ban e-mailing now?

* * *

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.

* * *

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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