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Facing Foreclosure, Team Obama Requests Illegal Help, Some Say, No Moratorium

By Matthew Russell Lee

WASHINGTON DC, October 18 -- Two weeks before the midterm elections, the Obama administration “disputes the premise” that there will be Republican gains, while resisting calls from the Left to impose a moratorium on foreclosures and in foreign policy going “all in” on South Sudan secession while increasingly ignoring Myanmar / Burma and what Barack Obama, as a Senator, had called a genocide in Darfur.

  Obama's Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes fielded questions from four journalists on Sunday, dodging one about corruption and disputing the premise of another, by the Wall Street Journal, about projected Republican advances.

  While a South Asian reporter tried to ask about math skills and then about an investigation into corruption in campaign contributions, Ms. Barnes asked him to repeat the first question, about Indian Americans and math.

 The second question about corruption was ignored, dodged, not answered. Inner City Press, having pushed Star One as soon as the Q&A began, was not allowed to ask about either foreclosures on Sudan, on of place in the campaign of the Obama administration's belated focus on the North - South refernedum and relative silence on Darfur and Myanmar.  The call ended with a question about Obama increasing traffic jams wherever he visits.

  In Washington around McPherson Square, whole streets are shut down for the passing of Obama's motorcade. Blocks away in the White House Conference Center, in a room with only pictures of Michele Obama on the walls, staffers who work for Ms. Barnes and Valerie Jarrett are known to be asking non-profits to help get out the vote on November 2, acknowledging the illegality even within their pitch. But just saying sorry doesn't change what's going on, said one participant. Desperation is not a defense.

This is a smaller but more illegal some say, because on government property, example of what has happened for months in hotels near the White House, where the Common Purpose Project has convened “marching orders” meetings in the Capitol Hilton with such figures as David Axelrod.

  Some of the non-profits sneak their donors in, to show what access they have. On the other hand, perhaps some donors condition their grants on get out the vote efforts. “This is war,” as one Obama staffer put it.

Obama at UN, WHCC pitches to get out vote and foreclosure moratorium not shown

  But why not then impose a moratorium on foreclosures? The excuse given last week was that it would freeze up the economy. Sseveral participants in an October 13 meeting with Obama came back with the same sound byte, that in Nevada over 50% of home sales are on properties that have been foreclosed on.

  Why was Nevada the example? Could it have to do, some asked, with Harry Reid? Vice President Joe Biden is headed to Reno this week, Deputy Communications Director Jen Psaki said, to stump for Reid. Obama is headed to Seattle with, it was gratuitously added on the call, his “popular wife Michele.” But what is her position on foreclosures? Who is being foreclosed on? And by whom? Watch this site.

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Kiir Won't Declare Independence, Susan Rice Says, Debt, Darfur & LRA Followup Unclear

By Matthew Russell Lee

UN PLANE TO DARFUR, October 7 -- Susan Rice spoke on the record to the Press on the back of the UN plane at the conclusion of her South Sudan leg of the UN Security Council's trip to Uganda and Sudan.

 The US Permanent Representative to the UN recounted how Salva Kiir gave assurances that South Sudan will not make a unilateral declaration of independence. Rather, if Khartoum delays the nationwide referendum, South Sudan will hold its own referendum.

  Inner City Press asked, what about the Southerns living in the North? Could they vote in this scenario? How many of them are there?

  "No one knows," Susan Rice said, adding that the South had accepted the count of 500,000 Southerners in the North in the last election, but now Khartoum has boosted the figure to 2 to 3 million.

  This echoed earlier on the record comments by UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant. Neither Ambassador would answer what is being done to prevent registration fraud.

  Nor would Susan Rice answer what if anything the US plans to do about Sudan's nearly $40 billion in debt. She told Inner City Press that the US role on this is to support what the parties decide.

 But how could the South accept the transfer of more than its fair share of the country's overall debt without an assurance that it would be forgiven?

Pressed, Susan Rice said that there are "legislative constraints" to forgiving Sudan's debt, and that even an independent South Sudan might not be "HIPC eligible." But isn't most of the debt non-IMF high interest rate loans?

Salva Kiir & Susan Rice, UDI & debt relief not shown

Finally, Inner City Press asked her about the accusation by South Sudan Minister of Internal Affairs Gier Chuang Aluang, in front of the Council and media, that the Omar al Bashir government is arming the Lord's Resistance Army and cattle rustlers. We've heard that before, she said, including in UN reports. But his allegations were specific. What will be done? Watch this site.

Footnotes: the reception Wednesday night involved not only Rice and the Council but also George Clooney, being followed around South Sudan by tele-journalist Ann Curry. Clooney joked that he wouldn't take a photo with a South Sudanese who was "too tall."

  On the plan, while Susan Rice said she would leave UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant to speak about Darfur, Inner City Press asked her a question: what is the US' position on UNAMID's proposed turn over to the government of Omar al Bashir of five supporters of rebel Abdel Wahid Nur, which documents obtained and published by Inner City Press exposed as being immanent. Susan Rice said she wants to find out more about it during the Council's time in Darfur. We'll see.

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South Sudan Accuses Bashir of Arming LRA as Susan Rice Smiles, Others Queasy

By Matthew Russell Lee

REJAF, SOUTH SUDAN, October 7 -- A military band greeted Susan Rice and 13 other Security Council Ambassadors on Thursday morning at this police training camp on the banks of the Nile River.

  The minister of internal affairs of the Government of South Sudan, Gier Chuang Aluong, gave a speech, in which he accused the government of Omar al Bashir of supplying ammunition not only to cattle rustlers but also the Lord's Resistance Army.

  Susan Rice did not react to this accusation, rather smiling broadly as South Sudan military figures praised her.

As the Security Council delegation took a tour of the facility, compete with mock hijackings of VIPs in four by four vehicle, fought off by the just trained police, Inner City Press asked another Council Ambassador if he was comfortable with the tone of the visit to Rejaf, sometimes called and spelled Rajaf.

  “It's a very sensitive situation,” he said, going on to wonder what the government of Sudan in Khartoum would think of this show of readiness for independence and with what some call its Susan Rice “cult of personality” aspect. Others say it is merely Susan showing her passion.

  Still, the mood was hopeful, with young South Sudanese singing and marching around in robo-cop crowd control outfits complete with thigh and shin armor. Inner City Press interviewed a number of the trainees, who said they are only paid from time to time and have no toilets, having to “use the bush.”

A speech to the Council members asked for $50 million to take the training facility to the next stage. Afterward an Ambassador joked to Inner City Press, “Did they expect us to take out our checkbooks?”

Susan Rice & SSudan minister, status neutral & $50 million not shown, (c) MRLee

  One Permanent Representative was conspicuously absent: Russia's Vitaly Churkin. It led one to wonder how such a Council Mission to Kosovo would have looked, while UNMIK was running it, before the unilateral declaration of independence. There, the UN's watchword was “status neutral.” Was that only because Serbia had Russia taking its side in the Council? Watch this site.

Footnote: the last leg of the Susan Rice portion of the trip, a visit to Wau, was canceled when the UN plane, run by Swift Air, broke down on the Juba tarmac. The entire delegation moved to the Russian base of UNMIS. Things started friendly, but then a Russian commander ordered the Press to stop using the Internet.

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UN Council Hears of S. Sudan “Slavery,” Sees Call for Separation, UNMIS Off Hook

By Matthew Russell Lee

JUBA, October 6 -- The Juba airport in South Sudan was jumping as the UN Security Council arrived late Wednesday afternoon. “Separation = Peace,” as one sign put it. If the welcoming party is any guide, the mood for secession in Sudan Sudan cannot be contained.

On the way to Juba, a senior Western official emphasized that the program for the Council and press is to show South Sudan outside of Juba -- just as the meeting earlier in Wednesday with Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni was not, in fact, about Somalia peacekeepers, but rather an Afro-centric view of Sudan's North - South conflict.

In the meeting, the official said, Museveni had repeatedly said that the Southern Sudanese had been treated like slaves. Rebecca Garang, it emerges, met with the Council minutes before Museveni, and spoke movingly of the death of her husband John, who stands to be the father of a nation. She asked why his death was not investigated as Lebanon's Hariri's has been.

She said that the Southern Sudanese missed the first time they tried to kill the gazelle -- this meant winning freedom, the official explained -- but now the reference will be the second change to kill the gazelle, and won't be missed.

Vans of the UN Mission in Sudan whisked the Ambassadors, staff and Press to the Government of South Sudan Conference Hall. Tall security guards with wrap around sunglasses asked, “You from New York?” Well, yes. This was the magic word to be whisk in for the photo opportunity of President of South Sudan Salva Kiir with three Ambassadors. Then the Press was told to leave, and also disinvited from an event event between the Ambassadors, the Government of South Sudan and civil society.

  Comparing this building to 2008, when Inner City Press was last in it, things have been progressing in South Sudan. But have they progressed enough, in terms of institutions? Museveni told the Council that ready or not, South Sudan can not be slaves anymore.

Juba, Oct 6, 2010 (c) MRLee Separation YES (games not shown)

Chosen as the place to stay was the Beijing Juba Hotel. Inside behind a counter with Chinese lanterns and a mural of the Great Wall, one African and three Chinese women distributed access codes to use the Internet in the lobby, and ask that rooms be paid in cash.

  Certain years or vintage of bill “are a problem here,” it emerges. The color of money is green, as are the fields outside of Juba. And freedom, by all accounts, is coming soon.

Inner City Press asked the Western diplomat if there are concerns among the Council about Khartoum's accusation that Salva Kiir has violated the CPA by saying he would vote for independence. I didn't see the quote, the official answered. Salva Kiir is free to express himself.

  But what about the North's plans to delay, stop or frustrate the referendum? Is the Council making plans? Is UNMIS up to it? Those on the trip won't know: the meeting with UNMIS and Haile Menkerios was canceled and won't be rescheduled. The plan for Thursday is in the air, literally--

Helicopters to Rejaf to see the training of police, prop planes to Waw or Wau, to visit a Catholic mission, and then on to Darfur. Watch this site.

Watch this site, follow on Twitter @InnerCityPress.

 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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