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Bloomberg Notes UN Is Outside the Law and Unsafe for Children, Dodges on Iran and Obama Plan, Message for Bronx Merchants

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, June 23 -- Mike Bloomberg, mayor of the UN's host city, was diplomatic on Tuesday when asked by the Press about complaints surrounding the repair of the UN's buildings, including asbestos removal next to captive employees and use of plastic PVC piping. "That's not easy," Bloomberg said, but "if the UN uses good New York City contractors I'm sure that the workmanship will be stellar."

  As Inner City Press has reported, UN general contractor Skanska is the subject of live litigation in California for its asbestos removal practices. In the UN's third sub-basement, there is sewage plumbing of white PVC plastic. UN Capital Master Plan chief Michael Adlerstein says that fine because they are temporary. But they are not connected to the sewers but rather collect in septic tanks.

  Bloomberg continued, "you've got to remember UN is by law a separate entity, we can only provide advice." What is the City's advice about the PVC pipes and septic tanks? Bloomberg referred to his sister, the City's liaison with the UN. What does she have to say about this, or the now-broken fire doors that she had required?

  After UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon left the event, about a climate change week in September, Bloomberg was more direct. He acknowledged that the City has barred its public school students from entering the UN due to lack of safety. He was asked if that's why the joint event with Ban, in part about a UN day on climate change on September 22, was not held in the UN but outside it. Bloomberg joked about the weather -- the first day in a week it hasn't rained -- but the question lingered in the humid air.

UN's Ban and NYC's Bloomberg, beyond climate, PVC pipe, Iran and economics

   Inner City Press also asked for Bloomberg's comments and suggestions for the UN on events in Iran. This, Bloomberg diplomatically dodged, saying, "I'd leave the international scene to the Secretary General." Some wonder how well that's working out. Click here for Inner City Press June 18 debate on that.

   Bloomberg also essentially dodged or declined to answer Inner City Press' question for his view of President Barack Obama's financial reform plan, announced last week, including the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

    Bloomberg said it was not for him to comment, he lacks information and leaves it to the person "in the ring." But how would the plan impact the economy of New York City?

   Finally, about the micro-economy of the South Bronx, Inner City Press asked Bloomberg to respond to criticism that the City-subsidized new Yankee Stadium has not helped local small businesses but rather hurt them, as affluent game goers bypass River Avenue for the franchises in the Stadium compound, from Hard Rock Cafe to official Yankee merchandise.

  Bloomberg said that some merchants have to change inventory. How that will play on 161st Street remains to be scene. Watch this site.

Footnote: the event, by the Climate Group and the Carbon Disclosure Project, featured a backdrop with logos including Swiss Re. From the podium, HSBC Bank was also thanked for unspecified partnership.

  HSBC is in fact under fire for funding rainforest destruction in Indonesia, and more recently blithely gushing about investment prospective in Sri Lanka, which is under criticism for killing and interning Tamil civilians and detaining UN staff. HSBC's logo was not on the banner, nor in the June 23 press release. Perhaps they put their cash on the barrel right at the last minute?

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Vattenfall CEO Says UN Climate Change Post Praises Coal Burning

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, June 18 -- The day after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon named an Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change, Inner City Press asked the UN Secretariat's representative Tarik Banuri on what basis Lars Josefsson, the CEO of notorious Swedish coal burner Vattenfall AB, had been included. Vattenfall has stated that it will actually increase its use of fossil fuels in the years to come, click here.

   Banuri first said that Sweden is a country to be admired for its environmental record, then added that Josefsson had been appointed in his personal capacity, not as any statement on this record of the company he heads. But Josefsson had already issued said in a statement that "the invitation is also a recognition of the significance of Vattenfall’s efforts to advance the energy and climate issue."

   So polluting companies use the UN to blue wash their records, and the UN does nothing. In fact, UN envoy Jeffery D. Sachs recently praised Vattenfall at a corporate-sponsored event that some environmental activists called turqoise washing.

  Vattenfall has already been awarded the Global Greenwash Award in connection with the World Business Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen which Ban Ki-moon attended on May 24, just after his whirlwind "victory tour" of Sri Lanka. Inner City Press, returning from Sri Lanka, went to the Bella Center where Ban was speaking to the Summit, but Ban's spokesperson there insisted there was no way to get UN accredited media inside.

   Also on Ban's new advisory board are representatives of India's Tata, Norway's StatOilHydro and the Korea Energy Management Corporation. Inner City Press asked if member Carlos Slim Helu, monopolist and New York Times titan, had attended the Group's first meeting. Banuri said he had not.

A Vattenfall coal fired plant in Germany - celebrated by UN?

   Meanwhile, a group of former Presidents of the UN General Assembly met in Seoul, on climate change. Not there was the just-past PGA Kerim, who Inner City Press spotted Wednesday night going in to the Ban Ki-moon speech in Manhattan which was protested by Tamils. Inner City Press asked at Thursday's noon briefing

Inner City Press: this grouping of former Presidents of the General Assembly, do you know how many, and like how many of them attended? I hadn’t heard of that group before and I saw [Srgjan] Kerim only last night at the Ban Ki-moon award and protest. Not at the protest.

Spokesman Enrique Yeves: To be honest, I am not sure how many of them they are. But this is not new. They have met several times, and actually President d’Escoto attended the meeting last year during the General Assembly with those former Presidents. And he was invited to go to Seoul to this meeting, and President d’Escoto wanted to attend, but then when we changed the dates of the summit, it was impossible for him to attend. So he sent a video message and I think the full list of participants is on the website.

Inner City Press: On the website of…? This body has its own…?

Spokesperson: No, no, on the website. I think they have released just today a press release.

   The chairman of this body, Han Seung-soo, was named a UN climate change envoy by Ban, until he returned to South Korea as prime minister. Now Ban has named Srgjan Kerim a climate change envoy. One wag quipped that regardless of one's views, climate change is the last refuge of a....

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On Oceans Day, Illegal Fishing Stumps UN FAO, Climate Refugees Denied Indonesia Island

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, June 8 -- As World Oceans Day was celebrated at the UN in New York, there was news, some good but mostly bad, about the failure to include oceans in the current climate change talks, and lack of welcome for environmental refugees.

  Inner City Press asked Ambassador Hasjim Djalal, Senior Advisor to the Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries of Indonesia, about reports his country might lease one or more islands to refugees from global warming, such as from the Maldives. Video here, from Minute 42:48.

   Hasjim Djalal, after bragging the Indonesia devoted one of its islands "south of Singapore" to Vietnam's boat people, said that now "Indonesians don't want to lose their islands," and so don't want to rent them. You never know what the refugees will leave, he said, to countries of reception. Among these he mentioned Australia which, he said, passes refugees on in turn to Nauru and Christmas Island.

  Indonesia, of course, recently sent Rohingya prospective refugees from Myanmar back to Bangladesh. Indonesia's Ambassador told Inner City Press this is humane and consistent with the Bali protocol. But what about an island?

Hasjim Djalal: no more leasing islands, Rohingya not shown

   Inner City Press asked what is being done to stop illegal fishing, for example off Somalia and Western Sahara. The FAO, it was said, has a plan of action. There are moves afoot to make countries control what companies, flying their national flag or not, do out in the ocean. But the UN is quiet as Morocco and European fish off Western Sahara, and little is done of the pillage off of Somalia. So where is the FAO?

   Also on the panel was professor David Freestone. Inner City Press asked him if Ban Ki-moon or Yvo de Boer should be more to try to put oceans on the UNFCCC agenda in Copenhagen. Freestone said that a special effort should be made. We'll see.

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

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