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Syria Ja'afari Asked of ICP's Feltman Scoop Calls It Escalation, Reuters UNexplained

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 29 -- Two months after Inner City Press broke the story that US official Jeffrey Feltman would come to head the UN Department of Political Affairs, on May 29 Inner City Press asked Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari for his comment. Video here, from Minute 25.

  While noting he has yet to receive "a letter from the Secretary General" confirming Feltman, Ja'afari said that for Feltman to head DPA "is a sign of escalation. This is not a sign of keeping things under the law, the international law."

   Ja'afari said the UN is not, or should not be, "about imposing national interests on the international community." He said the head of DPA should be "impartial, neutral" and he does not see Feltman that way. He is not alone.

When Inner City Press published its March 28 exclusive, it ran a quote that

"'This would strip from the UN its last scrap of credibility in the Middle East,' he said, adding that 'more shoes would be thrown at Ban Ki-moon.' He said, however, that Ban might be 'so out of touch' -- or so powerless or craven -- that he would rubber stamp the nomination of a Permanent Five member of the Security Council as he had France's ill-fated and 11th hour nomination of Herve Ladsous as the UN's top peacekeeper."

  What has happened since then? Well, Ladsous on May 29 responded by refusing to answer Inner City Press' questions about cholera in Haiti and about Sri Lanka, saying "Well, Mister, I will start answering your questions when you stop insulting me and making malicious and insulting insinuations." Video here, at Minute 28:10. What - that Bonnafont was Nicolas Sarkozy's person for UN Peacekeeping until this bragging led him to settle on Ladsous at the last minute?

   Reuters on May 21 stole without credit Inner City Press' March 28 exclusive about Feltman coming to the UN. Beyond not giving appropriate and legally required credit, the Reuters piece had no analysis of Feltman of the type widely heard, or hear-able, in the UN.

  Reuters bureau chief Louis Charbonneau said that more than a year ago he -- and, he noted, another Reuters reporter than at the UN with him -- stopped giving credit to any Inner City Press stories. He said credit is only a courtesy, not ever required. By contrast, Foreign Policy's "The Cable" did give credit, stating that it

"was first reported in March by the U.N. blog Inner City Press, and was reported again by Reuters Monday."

On May 22, the day after the uncredited theft by Reuters, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman -- and former Reuters reporter -- Martin Nesirky:

Inner City Press: Martin, I wanted to first ask you this: back in March, Inner City Press reported that Jeffrey Feltman, Assistant Secretary-General for Near Eastern Affairs, would be replacing Mr. [B. Lynn] Pascoe. This now seems to be getting closer, and I understand, you guys don’t confirm that, but I wanted to ask you something that is a pretty pervasive thought or criticism of this -- what would the Secretary-General say to those who say this would put his and the UN’s policy in this important issue, area of the Middle East, seeming to be either a subset of or conflated with United States foreign policy in the same area? Would he have any response, is there anything to be said to that analysis?

Spokesperson: The short answer is no, Matthew. If or when there are any appointments to be announced, we will make announcements, okay. I don’t have anything for you on this, okay. Yeah. Any other questions? Matthew, this is the last question.

Inner City Press: One question in the whole noon briefing, I don’t understand.

  Perhaps now it's not so difficult to understand. Since then, Nesirky and now his Deputy have refused to answer whether the UN gives journalists the right to see complaints like Charbonneau's which are filed against them.

   Repeated inquiries with Reuters if this is an acceptable policy have gone unanswered, by "ethics" chief Greg McCune then Reuters CEO James C. Smith. Most recently Reuters editor in chief Stephen J. Adler has been asked.

  Reuters, despite making most of its money from "high frequency trading" as one source puts it, should be expected to answer this question, and whether Reuters is behind Charbonneau's complaints against Inner City Press to the UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit and now the UN Correspondents Association, as the Rasputin of five big media against a smaller more independent one from which they take stories.

  This witch hunt's next step is said to be the naming by June 1 of a "board of examination" to "investigate" Inner City Press -- the idea being that they can name this board without yet having disclosed the complaints, complainants or witnesses (who, of course, should not be on the Board of Examination).

  Inner City Press has proposed three long time UN correspondents to the Board of Examination, if it goes forward, and the recusal of UNCA's President, who continues to demand that Inner City Press apologize for its Sri Lanka and seeming conflict of interest reporting. The article, at Pioli's request, was modified to specify that the payments were rent, now seven or eight years ago.

 But the question cannot be censored, whether Pioli should have recused himself them from screening the Sri Lankan government's rebuttal to "Killing Fields," which was not shown in the UN due to an event for Ban Ki-moon. That Pioli should recuse himself now is clear, and the request has been formally made. Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

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

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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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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