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For UN Day Light-Up, DM Pays, "Only 25 UNCA Journalists" Until Complaint

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 22 -- The upcoming UN Day, on the UN's 70th anniversary, will be sponsored by South Korea, with performances by the Korean Broadcasting System's symphony and “K-Pop” artists, as well as Chinese pianist Lang Lang.

  Tellingly, now the UN limiting information about UN Day events like the lighting of the Empire State Building with Lang Lang to the UN Correspondents Association, which after taking money from now indicted Ng Lap Seng's South South News gave SSN an award and delivered up Ban Ki-moon for a photo op with Ng in Cipriani. Plus ca change.

More than 24 hours after Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access complained, the UN belated sent the information to all journalists, at 6:30 pm, telling them they had to RSVP that evening.

  At the October 22 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq:

Inner City Press: I've seen these lights being installed in the fountain area and I'm assuming that that is to light up the building blue?

Deputy Spokesman:  Yes.

Inner City Press:  So I have two questions.  One is, who is paying for the lights?  Is it the Republic of Korea or is it out of the UN budget?  And, number two, is the Secretary-General lighting the Empire State Building tomorrow at noon?

Deputy Spokesman:  The Secretary-General I don't believe is lighting the Empire State Building at noon.  He will be at the stakeout just a few minutes before that.

Inner City Press:  I know, but I’ve seen some announcement not publically but in some other way that he will be with Lang Lang lighting the Empire State Building so I wanted to know is that true?

Deputy Spokesman:  I can't imagine that that could happen at noon given the logistics.

Inner City Press:  Who is paying for the lighting?

Deputy Spokesman:  I believe that the Department of Public Information [DPI] has been making the arrangements.  I don't know what arrangements they have for the payment, but it's DPI that has been arranging.

Question:  Seems important, given the current issue of who pays for what, could you get back on who is paying for the lighting?

Deputy Spokesman:  I believe it's out of DPI's budget, but we will see.

[The Deputy Spokesman later said the Department of Management was absorbing the cost for the lighting.]

 That question was belated answered, but other longstanding questions have not been.

 UNCA, which has yet to explain its support from South South News and other Ng vehicles, much less the Ban photo op, bragged that the UN was inviting only "UNCA Journalists" to the Empire State Building:

"UNCA is extending an invitation from the DPI Outreach Division, to see the United Nations Secretary-General light the Empire State Building to mark the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations, on Friday, October 23rd..

Giampaolo Pioli, UNCA President

Please note there will be a limit of 25 UNCA journalists allowed, so registration will be on a first come first serve basis."

 This, which was provided only to those who pay UNCA money, was leaked by one of the increasing numbers of disgusted or troubled recipients.

  At 6:30 pm on October 22, the UN told the journalists who choose NOT to join "David" Ng Lap Seng in paying UNCA money that "There are a limited number of spots to cover the Empire State Building Lighting Ceremony, which will take place tomorrow. If you are interested, please send an email tonight." This was at 6:30 pm. This (UNCA) is corruption.

  Inner City Press on October 19 asked UN Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach how the sponsors were chosen, if all member states were notified they could put in proposals, and about her participation, admittedly early in her tenure as USG for Public Information, as events of the Global Sustainability Foundation, named in the charge sheet against John Ashe, Sheri Yan and Frank Lorenzo, and of the Lorenzo-affiliated South South Awards. Video here.

   Gallach genial referred the selection or “vetting” question to her colleague Maher Nasser, and said that UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric's answer minutes earlier, on which we'll separately report, was her answer as well.

   Maher Nasser said that under previous USG Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, the Vienna Philharmonic was to play at this 70th UN Day, but then (after Launsky-Tieffenthal returned to his native Austria) found it was unable. So South Korea stepped forward, Nasser said, adding that future sponsorships are open. We'll have more on this.

   Other UN Day events beyond the concert with Lang Lang -- who also gave a speech at the founding of the Global Sustainable Foundation and will appear at an UN Correspondents Association-affiliated event this week, including Spanish sculptures on October 24 in Central Park, and photographs and a show about Dag Hammarskjold's “Markings” inside the UN on October 27.  Some of these, the UN sent only to UNCA.

 Of the Ashe / Lorenzo scandal at the UN, one might well ask and try to answer, “What Would Dag Say?” What indeed. The UN can and must do better, including being more transparent. The Free UN Coalition for Access, along with others, is working for this. Watch this site.

Footnote: Since the UNCA representative who only last week demanded the first question when not called on, and told Inner City Press for FUNCA to “shut up,” did not on October 19 try to brand the briefing for UNCA, Inner City Press offered a general thanks to USG Gallach. It works fine that way: briefing are not for branding. But branding by UNCA, particularly given recent revelations, will be be accepted.


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