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At UN, Libyan Deputy Says Mercenaries, PR Shalgam Says No, “Brown Like Me, Gadhafi Is My Friend, He'll Stop in 24 Hours"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 22 -- “Gadhafi is my brother, he is a courageous man and can make a decision,” Libya's Permanent Representative Abdel-Rahman Shalgam told the Press Monday morning outside the UN Security Council.

Inner City Press asked Shalgam, “Isn't Gadhafi recruiting mercenaries?”

No,” Shalgam insisted. “They come from the south of Libya. They are brown like me.”

Minutes later Shalgam's deputy Ibrahim Dabbashi, who wrote to the Council on Monday asking for an emergency meeting -- and now, a no-fly zone and humanitarian corridor -- said that he will be the one to address the Council on Monday afternoon.

What about Shalgam?” he was asked.

He is in New York but he is not working,” Dabashi said.

It's a coup, and a successful one, within Libya's mission to the UN, sources tell Inner City Press. The majority went with Dabashi, who held a press conference in Libya's mission during the US holiday on Monday.

Li Baodong of China stopped and told Inner City Press that there may be a Presidential Statement in the afternoon, it is floating around.

Shalgam previously at UN, friend Gadhafi and fire water not shown

A Western ambassador insisted Monday morning that Dabashi is the “charge d'affaires” and thus represents Libya.

Later, at 10:44 pm, Dabbashi returned to say that if Shalgam reasserts his powers, he will speak. Dabbashi said while Shalgam is Gadhafi's friend, he agrees violence must stop. But Shalgam denies mercenaries, while Dabbashi told Inner City Press they are in use in Tripoli.

Footnote: Inner City Press smelled liquor while standing next to Shalgam while he spoke on Monday. Watch this site.

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As Libya Burns, UN Ban Ki-moon in Hollywood, Faceless at Facebook

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 22 -- It wasn't clear why the trip was scheduled, and even less clear why it was not canceled after Libya starting bombing peaceful protesters from the air.

  But Tuesday as the UN Security Council convened behind closed doors on a request for a formal meeting on the bloodbath in Libya, Ban Ki-moon was in Hollywood talking about climate change and Haiti.

  Would he be asked about the protests against the UN in that country for militarization and, they say, bringing cholera in?

  Would Don Cheadle ask about how little the UN is saying as Sudan bombs the Jebel Marra region of Darfur?

  Ban's trip is a faint echo of that of Ambassador Susan Rice, to the headquarters of Twitter. Ban is going to Facebook, moderated by Zuckerberg relative Randi; Ban has appeared in the LA Times, albeit under the name Ki-moon.

  The CEO of the UN Foundation Kathy Calvin has traveled out there, and the UN's head Washington lobbyist Will Davis. Will they speak about Libya, and Gadhafi's daughter being a UN Goodwill Ambassador with a UN Laissez Passer?

  The goal is to get UN story lines in the movies. Inner City Press exclusively attended and reported on filming of Transformers 3 in the General Assembly Hall. What will it get for the UN?

Ban in Hollywood last time: burning of Libya not shown

Inner City Press wrote to Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky, and his deputy Farhan Haq, on the morning of Sunday February 20 asking

In the wake of the gunning down of 46 democracy protesters in Libya’s second largest city, Benghazi, by security forces under the command of Colonel Gadafi, is the UN reassessing its relationship with Col Gadhafi’s daughter, Aicha, who the UN has designated a “Goodwill Ambassador?

Has the Secretary-General sought to use the UN’s special relationship with its Goodwill Ambassador Dr Aicha Gadhafi to persuade her father not to use such excessive force against peaceful demonstrators?

  Two days later, no response at all from the UN. Inner City Press also asked Ban's spokesman Nesirky “in this context, the Secretary-General's planned trip to California to meet and greet 'the entertainment industry,' how much is this trip costing, and is it funded by the Regular Budget of the UN -- and if not, what is the funding source?” Again, no answer. Faceless at Facebook indeed.

* * *

In Murky UN, Kane & Trezza Look to Geneva, Nairobi Opaque, Zannier to OSCE?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 19 -- Asked about how told UN jobs are given out, long time UN official David Nabarro on February 19 told Inner City Press, “There are intensive efforts underway in the selection of so many senior positions in our system to increase transparency.” Video here.

One wishes that were true. For weeks, Inner City Press has been asking Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky to clarify the status of Under Secretary General Angela Kane, who was one of two finalists to lead the UN Office in Geneva, and to state whether UN envoy to Kosovo Lamberto Zannier gave notice before he put his name in the ring to head the OSCE.

  Nesirky has ignored the repeated questions about Kane, including when she would belatedly hold the next of her promised press conferences, and on the latter he said “Ask Italy.”

Kane's competitor for the Geneva post has been Italian official Carlo Trezza, his country's delegate on disarmament and other topics. On February 19 the buzz was that Trezza and not Kane was getting the post; some said due to corruption scandals and delays in the UMOJA technology program under Kane's watch.

   Kane has previously told Inner City Press she has no time to answer questions from the press, to send them all to the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General, where dozens of questions are pending, including the unanswered ones about Kane and UN management.

UN's Ban, Ms. Kane over his shoulder, public financial disclosure & answers not shown

   But why can't the UN say who are the finalists for jobs, and why? There is for example a new Under Secretary General post at the UN in Nairobi, which was created after UN headquarters unceremoniously removed Tanzanian Anna Tibaijuka from leading that office and put the German Achim Steiner in charge.

  The African Group fought back and a new management post was created. But who will fill it? Who is even in contention? Watch this site.

* * *

UN Officials Refusing Financial Disclosure Range from Sudan to Security, Abidjan to Lebanon, Ban's Friends & UNtrue Claim

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, January 25, updated -- In the run up to UN corruption hearings in the US House of Representatives today, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon angrily answered questions about lack of transparency by claiming that 99% of his officials publicly disclose their finances. This is not true, as Inner City Press has said and now documents.

   On the UN's website for such disclosures, numerous Ban officials simply state “I have chosen to maintain the confidentiality of the information disclosed by me in order to comply with the Financial Disclosure Program.” This is not public disclosure of finances: it is its opposite.

   Those Ban officials refusing make even the most basic disclosure -- as simple as in what country they own property, such as the one line disclosure by top UN lawyer Patricia O'Brien that she owns “farmland, Ireland” -- ranging from both of Ban's envoys in Sudan, Ibrahim Gambari and Haile Menkerios to UN officials with outside jobs that might conflict, such as Terje Roed-Larsen (Lebanon and IPI), Peter Sutherland (migration and BP) and Ray Chambers (malaria and hedge funds).

  When Chambers took the job, Inner City Press asked him about his outside interests. Now Chambers simply states, “I have chosen to maintain the confidentiality of the information disclosed by me in order to comply with the Financial Disclosure Program.”

There are other ways to not disclosure. Philippe Douste-Blazy, whom Inner City Press has exposed as wasting millions of dollars through the “MassiveGood” scheme, discloses no finances, only service for the Millennium Foundation.

  Alexander Downer, Ban's man on Cyprus, makes no financial disclosure although he lists he works at the business consultancy Bespoke Approach. And do its clients, in Turkey for example, raise conflicts? There is no way to know.

Ban's close ally and Cote d'Ivoire envoy Choi Young-jin states that “I have chosen to maintain the confidentiality of the information disclosed by me in order to comply with the Financial Disclosure Program,” as does Ban's UN Security chief Gregory Starr.

These refusals are noteworthy given how superficial even the “public disclosures” are. Peacekeeping logistics deputy Anthony Banbury, who famously said that “only” three rapes in a Haitian IDP camp “elated” him, lists “Nil” for both assets and liabilities, as does General Assembly Affairs chief Shaaban Shaaban.

Some officials are listed, but there is no link to any form, even one refusing to disclose. These include Achim Steiner of UNEP and former UN lawyer, still listed as adviser Nicolas Michel, who took money from the Swiss government for his housing while serving as the UN's lawyer. Since that scandal, there are issues about Ban officials receiving housing subsidies through their spouses, not disclosed on the “public” disclosure forms.

Other Ban officials stating “I have chosen to maintain the confidentiality of the information disclosed by me in order to comply with the Financial Disclosure Program” include West Africa envoy Said Djinnit, Middle East and Lebanon specialist Michael Williams, UNDP Asia boss Ajay Chhibber (in charge, another other places, of Myanmar), Jan Mattsson of UNOPS, where Ban's son in law got a controversial promotion, and Cheick Sidi Diarra, whose brother has been Microsoft's Ambassador to Africa, allowed to use a UN dining room for this purpose.

In another display of non - transparency, Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky on January 21 told Inner City Press he would not answer any more questions until Inner City Press acted “appropriately.” This outburst came after Inner City Press asked for the second day in a row how UN Staff Regulation 1.2 applies to UN official's outside political activity.

Ban named Jack Lang as his adviser on piracy, reporting to the Security Council today. But Lang continues to write letters as an official of a political party in France, for example regarding Ivory Coast (where, again, Ban's envoy Choi Young-jin refuses to disclose his finances). The UN has refused to apply its Regulation 1.2 to this or other case, or to even answer questions about it.

   One wonders how this will be dealt with at today's US House of Representative hearings and afterward. Click here for footage of Ban's claims from a recent piece on Swedish TV including Inner City Press and a hearing witness.

  Ban's main claim to transparency, the 99% of his officials make public financial disclosure, is simply not true, and his spokesman refuses to answer any questions. Watch this space.

Update of 11:15 am -- Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesperson's office, Messrs. Nesirky and Haq, the clarify Ban's now disproved claim, and received back only this, from Haq:

On the House of Representatives, what we have to say for today is:

The United Nations has always worked constructively with the United States, and we share the same goals: for a stronger UN, one that is efficient, effective, and accountable. That is why the Secretary-General has made strengthening the UN one of his top priorities since taking office.

The Secretary-General is convinced that a strong, effective and efficient United Nations needs the active and constructive support of Member States. To achieve that, he will continue to engage with the US Administration and with the US Congress on ways to ensure that the Organization can find solutions to today’s challenges, and deliver on the mandates given by it Member States.

  Still with no answer at all are questions submitted January 22, including

Ban Ki-moon is quoted by Bloomberg, which he sought out, that Congressional Republicans' "only complaint they may have is the lack of much faster progress than they might have expected.” What specific areas of "progress" was the SG referring to? Namely, which areas does the SG acknowledge not having met expectations and for which progress should have been made "faster"?

Michael Dudley, the acting head of OIOS' Investigations Division, is under investigation, for among other things, retaliation and evidence tampering. Given that Ban Ki-moon says he prides himself on the transparency of his administration, what specifically are the facts surrounding the investigation process regarding Mr. Dudley, and will the UN be reassigning him to other duties during the investigation?

 Watch this site.

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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