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The UN and its Mail, on Free Press, Sri Lanka and Middle East, True Believers

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 24 -- The UN being the United Nations, people write it letters. They plead for action by mostly get ignored. A current Under Secretary General, speaking candidly but not only background, said of e-mail from Sri Lanka's Tamil diaspora, "I just delete them." He was angry when this was reported by Inner City Press. But why waste such people's time?

  Even in the spotlight, the UN shows disdain. Recently a press freedom organization, the Inter-American Press Association, wrote to Ban Ki-moon, about crack down on media and reporters in Venezuela. Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky first said he'd never heard about the letter. Then they told reporters that the letter was received.

  Back again on camera, Nesikry got asked: but what about this now acknowledged letter, would Ban have any reaction? No, Nesikry said, you should ask UNESCO.

   When the free press group's vice president Gonzalo Marroquin came to the UN, it emerged that UNESCO was unaware of the letter and that the group, in candor, didn't even expect any help from Ban Ki-moon. They wrote the letter to raise the issue. To this has the UN sunk.

UN's Ban reads letter, his USG deleting, entries on free press, not shown

  At a recent presentation to DC based law students, an Arabic television reporter chided Inner City Press for exposing UN corruption. The stories are all true, he said, they are actual exclusives. But in my region -- he is from Egypt -- people put their hopes in the UN, he said. They come asking for help on Palestine and southern Lebanon. Exposing corruption hurts their chances or their hopes.

  But maybe their hopes should be tempered. Maybe they have been wasting their time, thinking this UN could or would actually act. Look at the UN's marginalization, growing every year. Look at the ejection of peacekeeping missions, even from Africa. Look at the letters and emails, ignored and deleted...

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On Volcanic Ash, ICAO Has No Standards, No Answers of EU's African Blacklist

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 21 -- The expectation was of volcanic ash when the two heads of the International Civilian Aviation Organization arranged to speak to the Press on Tuesday. They had come to the UN to meet with Ban Ki-moon, amid ash-trigger flight cancellations which even killed off the UN Security Council's long planned trip to the Congo to try to save its peacekeeping mission.

  But after meeting Ban, they claimed that ash was not among the three main issues discussed: climate change, security against terrorism, and the reconstruction of Haiti.

  Inner City Press asked, about criticism of ICAOs lack of leadership during the six days of flight cancellations. It is up to member states to decide when to close their air space, was the answer. But shouldn't ICAO develop standards, for the effects of ash concentration? It is not easy, the president off ICAO's Council Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez said.

  Inner City Press asked about the decision by the European Union to block -- "blacklist" -- all aircraft from 13 African nations, as well as about the U.S. decisions after the so-called Nigerian underwear bomber.

UN's Ban and ICAO's Benjamin: it's all about the Benjamins

  Raymond Benjamin, ICAO Secretary General, tried to chide Inner City Press for mixing the two issues, and said that the U.S. blockages have all been resolved. But what about the EU blacklist?

  When Pressed, the two men insisted that their only focus was safety. But when Inner City Press asked for their response to many letters asking that ICAO let in Taiwan -- province of China! -- at least as an observer, given the number of flights in and out of Taipei, they shook their heads. So are the letters a waste of time? Yes they are, was the answer from Raymond Benjamin, ICAO Secretary General. Video here. Only at the UN. Leaving the stakeout, one correspondent muttered, "What ashes."

 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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