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

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With UN Rehab Over Budget, Press Gets a Tour, Qs of Loading Dock & Cameras

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 31 -- The UN's Capital Master Plan renovation is at least $80 million over budget, even after the controversial infusion of $100 million in Tax Equalization Funds which were due back to US taxpayers. So what better time for CMP chief Michael Adlerstein to make nice with the press?

  Thursday Adlerstein allowed UN correspondents to take a tour of the mostly empty UN Secretariat Building, from the views out over Queens and Long Island from the 36th floor to the data center and electrical switches in the second sub-basement.

Along the way he delivered a stream of patter, some of it true, some not. He pointed to the wrong section of the old Security Council as the location of the Horseshoe Table.

  He made claims about the planned new loading dock to the north of the UN complex and security for the Library Building that time, we predict, will show to be false. But in hardhat and orange construction vest, he did his best to charm the press, not unlike Robert Moses.

There were interesting tid-bits: the concrete used to build the Secretariat was better quality than the Conference Building. Con Edison keeps the key to its vaults on the UN compound; the UN does not have them.

Adlerstein and his bow-tied spokesman, $100M not shown

Later on Thursday, Inner City Press was invited to a party for a staff member back down in 3B, the third sub basement. There, complaints were made about the security cameras being installed throughout the renovated space. What do that want to do, the question was, keeps tabs on their own staff?

This same eye in the sky approach was taking to the Press area on the second floor of the library, until Inner City Press exposed it. Adlerstein's tour on Thursday was sanitized, as one might be in Myanmar or today's Tripoli. Watch this site.

Footnote: the main fight back by UN correspondents is about the future space in the Secretariat Building. How large will it be, and will it have walls like the press corps used to have, or be a whistleblower free zone like the current configuration? Adlerstein tried to dodge the question. But on that and financing, there is nowhere to hide. Watch this site.

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Libya Briefing by d'Escoto Canceled by UN Is Further Put Off, Shalgam in UN

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 31 -- When the UN canceled a press conference scheduld for March 31 at 10 am by Miguael d'Escoto Brockmann about Libya, it claimed it was only a matter of too many press conferences being scheduled for the day.

It was a ludicrous claim: US Ambassador Susan Rice has complained about the press conference the previous evening, and the UN guarded the briefing room with armed security officers on Thursday morning. But the UN said that the press conference was being re-scheduled for Friday at 10 am.

At 3 pm on Thurday, Inner City Press heard via the Nicarguan mission that the Friday briefing was also being canceled, and reported it via Twitter.

A half hour later, UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq confirmed this, again calling it a postponement. It was Haq who dodged Press questions Thursday at noon, telling Inner City Press that he could not speak for the whole Secretariat. Who does he speak for, then?

The result is that a briefing that many UN correspondents wanted to hear, the Tripoli position such as it is on Libya, was postponed and now perhaps canceled for good.

Some of UN Security block briefing room 10am March 31, (c) MRLee

Meanwhile on Thursday afternoon, former Gaddafi Permanent Representative Shalgam, who was removed by a letter from the Gaddafi regime but then given a “courtesy pass” by the Ban Ki-moon administration, was seen by and exchange greetings with Inner City Press on the UN's media floor at 3:30 on Thursday, on the way to speak on Al Jazeera television.

Tell it like it is,” Inner City Press urged Shalgam, who laughed. But shouldn't the UN press corps, some ask, be able to hear from both sides, inside the UN?

Meanwhile something that Inner City Press reported weeks ago - that Ali Treki would defect -- has today been confirmed. Watch this site.

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UN Security Blocks Room Where Libya Talk by d'Escoto Was Planned, Video

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 31 -- UN security guards blocked press access to the media briefing room on Thursday morning, when a session on Libya by Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann had been scheduled to occur. Inner City Press video at

The UN has already unceremoniously dropped d'Escoto Brockmann's press conference from its Media Alert on the evening of March 30, after US Permanent Representative Susan Rice complained that since d'Escoto Brockmann is on a tourist visa in the US, he cannot speak for Libya - and should not be holding a press conference inside the UN.

At a reception at the Chinese mission on Wednesday night and since, Inner City Press has been told that the when the UN Secretariat received the complaint, rather than point out that other press conferences have been held by non diplomats they moved to cancel Brockmann's “show.”

Inner City Press and some other media have complained. Now the word is that d'Escoto Brockmann's press conference has been re-scheduled for Friday at 10 am. Not only is that April 1st -- that is, April Fool's Day -- but to some it does not remove the taint of the UN canceling the press conference, then sending armed guards to block media from entering the briefing room. Watch this site.

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Letter from Gaddafi Minister Names d'Escoto Brockmann Libyan Envoy to UN

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 30 -- Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, former Nicaraguan foreign minister and UN General Assembly President, has been named Libya's permanent representative to the UN in a letter from Gaddafi's foreign minister Musa Koussa, a copy of which Inner City Press has obtained.

Click here for letter in Arabic (PDF), here for Spanish translation by Nicaraguan government (Word).

   UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told the Press at noon on March 30 that the UN had not received the letter. When Inner City Press asked him about Koussa's letter's statement that the US had denied a visa to Gaddafi's first replacement, Ali Treki, Haq said "ask the United States." Inner City Press has, without response.

   Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann is a dual citizen of Nicaragua and the United States - he does not need a visa. And on March 31 he will hold a press conference, which Haq presented only in terms of Nicaragua and the GA, not Libya.

  The stakes are now raised at the UN. Under customary procedure, d'Escoto Brockmann would be accepted as Permanent Representative replacing Shalgam. He could then enter and speak in the Security Council, as well as go and “clean out” the Libyan Mission to the UN on 48th Street of all those who renounced Gaddafi.

But these are not customary times. It is possible that Western “coalition” members and / or Secretary General Ban Ki-moon could push Musa Koussa's letter to the General Assembly's Credential Committee, as they recently did the case of Cote d'Ivoire. That would set a precedent. 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.

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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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