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As FUNCA Asks UN of Prosecution for Facebook Like, UNCA Sells Access

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 15 -- While today's UN vaguely associates itself with freedom of the press and of expression, its response to attacks on these freedoms is often slow, or non-existent, particularly when it comes to new or social media.

On December 15 Inner City Press for the new Free UN Coalition for Access asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq:

Inner City Press: There’s been a factory worker in Thailand who was arrested for merely liking, on Facebook, a post about the king. He’s threatened with a lengthy prison sentence for expressing his opinion on social media and I’m wondering, does the Secretary General have any position on the use of these lese majeste laws to censor citizens’ speech?

UN's Haq: That’s more of a question for the office of the high commissioner for human rights. But our basic concern is to make sure that there’s no legislation that hurts people’s ability to use any form of media in order to express their free expression of idea.
Inner City Press: But the case in South Korea is a libel case, with people reporting about the president would put you in jail. So is that a law that would restrict free expression?

UN's Haq: We’ve always had concerns about any law that would restrict the freedom of expression and of reporting.

  This for the UN which has resisted having any content-neutral accreditation policy. While FUNCA asked these questions, the old UN Correspondents Association did nothing. In fact, as well as having tried to get the investigative Press thown out of the UN, it sells access to Ban Ki-moon, see below.

With the UN embroiled in scandals including the indictments of the former President of the General Assembly John Ashe and Macau businessman Ng Lap Seng and the founder of South South News, on December 14 the UN Correspondents Association sold seats with Ban Ki-moon for $6000.  Periscope I here;  Periscope II here.

UN corruption, never reformed, rises from the Ashes, courtesy of UNCA, now the UN Corruption Association.

  And yet, from inside Cipriani Wall Street, one of the musicians paid to play has an open mind, and when shown reporting on UN corruption asks, Should I make a scene? Tweet here.

 Just ask, who here paid $6000 as solicited by UNCA to sit with Ban Ki-moon. And why pay it? With Ng Lap Seng, it's clear.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Ban supports journalists. But the UNCA he's supporting tries to get them out of the UN. RSF did good work of late. But willful blindness does not help journalists.

The new EU representative naively said, First UNCA; the Turkish mission tweeted a photo of Ban (after its Perm Rep hob-nobbed with him in front of Monaco's painting, ignoring the invasion of Iraq, whose Ambassador arrived in tux to the Corruption Ball, we excuse him.)

 Since UNCA previously at such an event at Cipriani sold photo ops with Ban Ki-moon to now-indicted Ng Lap Seng, who will be this year's Ng Lap Seng?  Into Cipriani, this time the one on Wall Street, passed many tuxedoed individuals never seen at the UN. What were they buying? What safeguards had been added since Ng Lap Seng and John Ashe? None.

  New PGA Mogens Lykketoft arrived, as did Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson and David Nabarro, who stopped in the rain to speak with Inner City Press, as did another Under Secretary General. How can the UN and its group of scribes remain so UNreformed, despite indictments and public scandal?

The bureau chief of Voice of America, who previously tried to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN after it reported on UNCA corruption, the boss Giampaolo Pioli renting one of his apartments to Sri Lanka's ambassador then screening his war crimes denial film in the UN, this time seemed to give the finger, flip the bird to the press. Ah, journalism.

Is it journalism to solicit and take money from those you ostensibly cover? Where does it go? We'll have more on this.

  Earlier on December 14 UNCA lobbed three softball questions to Ban -- none on Burundi, for example -- from the former president of UNCA Pamela Falk, then the current vice president and finally the current questioner for UNCA. Inner City Press loudly asked a question about the killings in Burundi, which Ban declined to answer. Vine here.

  Inner City Press for the new Free UN Coalition for Access asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the propriety of UNCA selling seats with Ban. Dujarric said, "As long as it's transparent." Is that the standard?

One would expect the UN press corps, even the entity the UN itself chooses to set aside first questions for, to be pursuing rather than be involved in the scandals.

 One might also expect UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to be more cautious of colluding in events in which access to him  has been sold.

  But with the UN Correspondents Association, this year more than ever, that is not the case. The group or its leadership, headed by Italian paparazzi scribe Giampaolo Pioli who after trying to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN now covers actors like Morgan Freeman while others at his paper cover the UN, is selling seats with Ban Ki-moon for $6,000.

  In response to Press questions about this UNseemly sale of access, Ban's spokesman said "as long as it's transparent." Will that keep the indictments from expanding?

Inner City Press on December 11 spoke with indictee Frank Lorenzo, pictured here with Ban Ki-moon, as written up by "Italian News."

This year's sale of Ban, like to Ng Lap Seng in 2011, is an Italian job, run by pazarazzi / "correspondent" / landlord Giampaolo Pioli.

 How does this UNCA sleaze fest differ from the South South Awards, inextricably linked to the indictments of Ng Lap Seng, South South News' Frank Lorenzo and former President of the General Assembly John Ashe? Hardly at all. So what will happen? We'll have more on this.

Here is a photo of Ban Ki-moon at South South Awards with several indictees, here.

 For now we can report that at the December 11 closed door session on "Revitalization of the General Assembly," both the UN's Controller and Ban Ki-moon's new chief of staff Edmond Mulet made arguments for post-Ashe reforms that a number of member states found far too little. And Ban is slated to have seats next to him sold for $6000. We'll have more on this too.

  On December 10, days after Pioli used the large room the UN gives to UNCA, its UN Censorship Alliance, to campaign for a Security Council seat for his native Italy by giving out free meats, the view into the Club was blocked. So much for transparency.

  Here is a photo of the Clubhouse:

  The flier on the glassed-in bulletin board, under the "election" results, is of fine recently deceased journalist Haider Rizvi. Inner City Press' obituary hinted at it, but now we're compelled to say: UNCA, or its sidekick, tried to get him thrown out of the UN. There'll be a memorial for Haider, which can be participated in online,  on December 12 - in Lahore. Truth is what journalism is about. But here's Pioli on Morgan Freeman:

 UNCA's "elections" had no competition at all for the officer seats, now doled out to AFP, France 24, the US Broadcasting Board of Governors and ANSA from holdover president Giampaolo Pioli's native Italy.

  This UNCA "leadership" represents Italy and France, and old media -- tellingly, those new media which chose to run (Inner City Press quit UNCA after its censorship bid) for lesser UNCA seats were not selected. Also tellingly, the UN Spokesperson's office promoted the scam election, using its loudspeaker to try to get out the vote (for candidates who had no opponents.)

 The ringmaster, Giampaolo Pioli, came through the UN Security Council stakeout not to ask any question or even listen to answers on South Sudan or Syria; he glad handed his unopposed slate and then headed to the UN bar. He has arranged more Italian toasting, seeingly part of Italy's actually-opposed campaign for a Security Council seat (more on this in future dispatches).

  It's become the UN's Censorship Alliance - having tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN - and the UN Corruption Association, selling photo ops and seats with Ban Ki-moon.  Call them Ban Ki-moon shots.

  While calling for an audit of sale of UN access under John Ashe, should Ban openly allow access to him to be sold? He appears intent on doing so, or operating by inertia, on automatic pilot. Inner City Press now learns that Ban's twice delayed report on the cover up of peacekeepers' rapes in the Central African Republic will be pushed further back, after the sell-out, buried. We'll have more on this.

 UNCA's awards, such as they gave to South South News for money, include awards and payments to entities who've served on their own Board.

  In 2011 under then (and now) president Giampaolo Pioli, UNCA took money from the South South News of now-indicted Ng Lap Seng, then gave South South News an UNCA award and gave Ng Lap Seng a photo op with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

  Now in November 2015, Pioli has solicited $6000 from UN Ambassadors for seats at the “VIP” table at the UNCA “Ball” on Wall Street: to sit with Ban Ki-moon. Here is UNCA's pitch:

"Dear Ambassador,
The United Nations Correspondents Association is honored to invite you to participate and contribute to the 20th annual UNCA Awards event with guest of honor U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, recipient of the 2015 Global Advocate of the Year Award for climate change.  Exclusive raffle prizes include business class airline tickets around the world with hotel accommodations and a grand prize FIAT 500X car. As your esteemed presence will ensure the success of this event, we are pleased to send you the below opportunities to attend the gala dinner:
Mission Table Special Price / $6000 (half-table) 5 seats at VIP table at the gala event
Special Ambassador Contribution / $2,000 -1 VIP ticket for Ambassador with premium seating to dinner + 1 complimentary VIP ticket for spouse or guest -Special acknowledgement of the Ambassador and the Mission in the UNCA Awards Journal of the evening -Additional tickets for UN Diplomats of the Mission can be purchased at the special price of $750 each

Giampaolo Pioli, UNCA President
Please make all checks payable to 'UNCA Awards Committee'
Contributions to the UNCA Awards Committee are tax deductible.
The UNCA Awards Committee is a 501-c(3)"

 This is precisely the type of sale of access involved in the indictments of Ng, Sheri Yan and Frank Lorenzo.

  While others are announcing audits and freezing such contacts, UNCA under Pioli is bulling forward, charging ever more money, getting ever further from journalistic purposes.

  On November 20, Pioli's UNCA circulated a list of candidates with no competition for any of the six officer positions. It also pre-announced its awards, including to Reuters (on its Board) and others. We'll have more on this.

    For the three running unopposed for five president slots, two were already on the UNCA board during the relevant time period; the other is Pioli's former protege at Quotidiano Nazionale. It's an Italian thing.

   Running for Treasurer? It's Agence France Presse, whose previous correspondent tried to use a position on the UNCA board to censor Press coverage of Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row atop UN Peacekeeping.

  Reuters is in the mix, too, and another which joined Pioli in trying to censor coverage of Pioli unilaterally approving a Sri Lankan government war crimes denial film for a “UN” screening, after Pioli rented one of his apartments to Palitha Kohona, Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the UN. This is UN. But amid the new scandals at the UN, this is something new: watch this site.

Footnote: Inner City Press after Pioli's and others censorship bid, and attempt to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN (uncovered along with documents still to be published by a Freedom of Information Act request, here, and questioned by the New York Civil Liberties Union), quit the UNCA board and co-founded, with another who'd quit UNCA as corrupt, the Free UN Coalition for Access.

 FUNCA does not seek any automatic first questions, but opposes the UN setting aside first questions for an entity which, as now shown, is enmeshed in the very UN scandals that must be asked about. Watch this site.


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