Inner City Press

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

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg Nigeria, Zim, Georgia, Nepal, Somalia, Azerbaijan, Gambia Click here to contact us     .


Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


Follow us on TWITTER

Subscribe to RSS feed

Video (new)

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

At UN, Council Moves But Medical Files and Union Left Behind by Master Plan

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 29 -- While the UN Capital Master Plan lurches forward, some are left behind. On fifth floor of the Secretariat building last week, the hallway was full of rolling carts of medical files.

  Weeks ago, the UN Medical Service, embroiled in a scandal of doctors without U.S. licensed signing out controlled substances to themselves, moved out to Second Avenue and 42nd Street, "above the liquor store," as it's known.

   But the contractor had made the shelves for medical records too small. So so the records stayed in an office empty but for the X-ray unit. This apparently can't be moved "above the liquor store." It will be buried in the UN's third sub-basement.

  Also on the fifth floor, the UN Staff Union hasn't even been told where they will finally move to. They were offered a minuscule space in the Alcoa Building on 48th Street; this offer may have been withdrawn.

   This despite a blustery ultimatum from the Capital Master Plan, that if journalists don't relinquish their offices on the fourth floor by March 31, their files will be thrown out. If the Staff Union one floor above is any indication, the April 1 deadline is false. We shall see.

  In terms of the forced move of UN correspondents to cubicles that initially came equipped with security cameras above them monitored by the UN -- the "no whistleblower zone," Inner City Press dubbed it -- now the UN wants to begin charging even for an inside-the-UN phone.

 Since these allow correspondents to call and cover the UN's work in the field, from Congo to Timor Leste, one wonders if it's smart. But this UN must know what it's doing, monitoring and making things more difficult for independent journalists.

As new Security Council was built- now finished, journalists not shown

  The Secretariat, Staff Union officials complain, has been trying to divide and conquer. While two officials have been released from day to day UN work to perform Union functions, the second vice president remains employed in the forestry unit of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. She wants and applies for promotions, setting up a conflict of interest in her Union work.

  Records indicate that she came into UN service "through the back door," seconded by Brazil and then somehow "regularized." She has accused Union president Steven Kisambira of being an emperor; he has responded by putting on a emperor-like hat. And so it goes at the UN.

Footnote: to give credit where credit is due, for the move of the Security Council down to the old Conference Room 4 in the General Assembly building basement, work went on over the weekend. By Monday morning, if for example the Council wanted to meet about the subway bombings in Moscow, they could.

  A visit Monday morning by Inner City Press found that the flags were set up where the Vienna Cafe used to be. The consultations room was in old Conference Room 5. And the horseshoe table was in place, raised the mezzanine cheap seats, with a replica painting behind.

  "We busted a nut," a CMP official said. Why not for those left behind in the Secretariat? And how is the Council going to act when the UN's Security Council Affairs has been relegated out to Third Avenue in the so called Teachers Building of TIAA-CREF? There appears to be dissension in that office. Watch this site.

* * *

UN Installs Cameras to Film Reporters' New Offices, No Whistleblower Zone

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, December 14, updated -- As UN correspondents were moved over the weekend to smaller offices without floor to ceiling walls, the UN's lack of respect or understanding for independent media became clear. Directly above the journalists' cubicles, Inner City Press discovered a spherical black security camera. Even investigative journalists meeting with UN whistleblowers would be filmed under this arrangement.

  One long time correspondent, when Inner City Press pointed out the camera, called it "creepy." Another asked how it is different than the UN bugging journalists' telephone conversations or reading their mail.

UN 360 degree security camera over journalists' cubicles

  Those in charge of the relocation space for the media during the UN's Capital Master Plan renovation have problematic relations with independent media.

   CMP chief Michael Adlerstein, for example, demanded of the Press "did you make a mistake" regarding reporting of a death at the UN, and asked "how should you be punished?" He has also barred the Press from his Town Hall meetings about the CMP.

  The head of the Department of Management, Angela Kane, convened and summarized a meeting in May 2009 at which the UN's top legal officer, spokesperson and speech writer strategized on legal threats against three publications, including this one, which they sought to be removed from the Google News data base.

At UN, a new swing space, surveillance camera not shown

  As one Greek correspondent has confirmed, with documents leaked from within the UN Department of Political Affairs, the UN system including the UN Development Program pays and controls many of the journalists which cover it.

  But to actually monitor and film in their offices the journalists who are trying to hold the UN accountable to member states and the public is a new low. Watch this site.

Footnote: one wonders, too, if this means that Ambassadors and other diplomats will also be surveilled.

Update I: a UN official with responsibility over the swing space into which UN correspondents are being moved has argued to Inner City Press that the cameras are only there to film the doorways, to see who enters. But they are round and film 360 degrees. Watch this site.

Update II: one of the surveillance cameras has been moved, after a threat to cover it with paper or disable it. But if one has thus been moved, shouldn't all be moved or removed? Watch this site.

 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

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -