Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg Nigeria, Zim, Georgia, Nepal, Somalia, Azerbaijan, Gambia Click here to contact us     .


Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


Follow us on TWITTER

Subscribe to RSS feed

Video (new)

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

As Bloomberg Boosts Uruguay Smoking Fight, of UN & Tobacco, Food Safety Black Hole

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 15 -- In a small conference room in Uruguay's Mission to the UN, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday announced a grant from his foundation to help Uruguay defend a lawsuit by Philip Morris against the country's no smoking laws.

  Since it was across 48th Street from UN headquarters, Inner City Press asked about tobacco and the UN, in New York and in the field. The UN Global Compact, for example, does not bar from its membership tobacco and cigarette companies, despite claiming to stand for corporate social responsibility.

  Global Compact chief George Kell has twice told Inner City Press that since tobacco is legal, the companies will not be barred.

  Meanwhile on a trip last month to the UN's peacekeeping mission in Sudan, smoking was prevalent, despite what Uruguayan Permanent Representative Jose Luis Cancela on Monday told Inner City Press about the anti smoking resolution his country sponsored in the General Assembly. The problem, he said, is enforcement -- which is also true on health matters ranging from food safety to bedbugs.

It's not for me to tell anyone else how to behave,” Bloomberg said without irony, adding, “It's very difficult to enforce.” He said life expectancy in New York has gone up by nineteen months in the past eight years, and that users of beaches and parks and not his Mayor's Office pushed to ban smoking even in those outdoors locales.

  In the front row sat his sister Marjorie Tiven, New York City's liaison with the UN. While she played a role in forcing the UN to take note of local fire codes, nothing has yet been done as to food safety code.

Bloomberg & Cancela, Global Compact smoking &food grades not shown

   Back on November 1, Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky:

Inner City Press: in New York now, the Health Department has a system under which the representing letter grades for health. They inspect restaurants and any other food facility. And apparently they have… they do inspect… I wasn’t aware of this, but they inspect the UNICEF cafeteria and the DC-One cafeteria, and both have received grades that would be B or in one case C. What I am wondering is whether the facility here in UN Headquarters, does the UN consider this to be outside of that system of health inspections, and if so what can it say about the… given, across the street what the grades are? And also, not to say that the two are related, but what interface has there been with the city government on this bedbug issue and what update can you provide as to the tests that you said last week were being performed in various locations, some here, some out, including one that was supposedly going to be done and or may soon be done on the 2nd floor? So it’s the food issue, and then the bedbug issue.

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, on the second, I don’t have an update, and let’s see if we can get one. I don’t have an update. But I do know, as you yourself have said, you’ve been in direct touch with the relevant people from Facilities Management Service. I am sure that if you wanted to, you could do the same again. But for the benefit of others, of course, and for you as well, we’ll see if there is an update. On the first part, health inspections, I would defer to my colleagues who liaise with the city authorities. I don’t know the answer to that.

Inner City Press: Should I follow up with them or can you [inaudible]?

Spokesperson Nesirky: As I said, I will see what we can find out.

[The Spokesperson later added that Aramark said that the cafeteria at United Nations Headquarters was not being inspected.]

Watch this site.

* * *

UN G-20 Team Cuts Out UNDP & Jomo, Ban 2d Term in View, DC House  Looming

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 9 -- As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrived in South Korean for the G-20 meeting, UN sources in New York complained to Inner City Press about an “unprecedented level of micro-management” by Ban's office in the run up to the G-20.

  South Korea having this G-20 is a laurel in the country's crown, as is Ban's position in the UN. But Ban wants to use this G-20 meeting, if possible, to get endorsements for a second term as Secretary General, publicly or privately. So nothing can go wrong.

  For that reason, the sources tell Inner City Press, unlike before other G-20 meetings when a range of UN system officials have been involved, this time Ban's closest advisers seized control of preparations.

  Excluded or elbowed out among others the sources tell Inner City Press were Norwegian Olav Kjorven, assistant secretary-general and director of policy at UNDP and Malaysia Jomo Kwame Sundaram, the assistant secretary general of DESA under Sha Zukang, the Under Secretary General who wined and dined with and gave an award to the Tiananmen Square general during Ban's recent trip to Shanghai.

  This of course is bad form. But Ban is under pressure, especially after the controversy surrounding his craven suck-up to China during his four day visit, not once publicly mentioning the name of this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.

Ban &
Sagong Il of G-20 Korea Summit Coordination Committee, Jomo & Olav not shown

   Even the generally liberal and pro-UN New York Times ran an editorial questioning whether Ban should be supported for a second term.

  Now, after the November 2 election, Ban and his advisers know they face a buzz saw in the Republican controlled House Foreign Relations committee, probably under UN knowledgeable Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who may look into issues ranging from UN inaction in Darfur to Myanmar as well as UNRWA. Their tour guide to Washington Robert Orr, reportedly the crafter of the “US is a deadbeat” line, may lose his way in the new Committee. Will they hire a lobbyist? Watch this site.

* * *

At UN, Finger Pointing on Ban Human Rights in China Flap, Nobel & Sha Unaddressed

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 5 -- With UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon under fire for not raising human rights or the new Nobel Peace Prize winner when he met with Chinese President Hu, for external consumption Ban on Friday morning read out a defensive statement in a press conference on climate change financing.

Ban insisted that “the record is clear” that he mentioned human rights in Nanjing -- as a “shared value” -- and in Beijing in a speech to students. Ban did not mention, in China or in his Friday statement, Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, nor his Under Secretary General Sha Zukang having given a “World Harmony Foundation” award to Chinese former military chief on October 27. (Inner City Press got Sha's side of the story on November 4, click here.)

Inside the Ban administration, sources tell Inner City Press, the finger pointing has begun. Ban's senior adviser Kim Won-soo, the sources say, lays the blame for the coverage on his putative superior Vijay Nambiar and Department of Political Affairs chief Lynn Pascoe.

They in turn pass the blame further downstream to Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky, pointing at days of Nesirky saying Ban did not raise human rights to President Hu, then emailing out a late night statement that rights had been raised to other Chinese officials, whom Nesirky has left unnamed.

A range of UN officials and staff interviewed in recent days have expressed concern that the brand of the UN has been hurt by the flap, culminating they said in the New York Times editorial questioning whether Ban should get a second term as Secretary General.

UN's Ban, Sha and Nambiar, Chinese rights & general not shown

While it appears that the staged Q&A at Friday's press conference is intended as Ban's response to the media, some say there's a need for Ban to address UN staff members and explain what has happened, and why. And if his climate change press conference was “not the proper occasion,” as he put it, to address human rights, he should set up a separate press availability to answer questions, and not from notes. Watch this site.

Footnote: even on the topic of Friday's press conference, the report of the High Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing given to Ban by Jens Stoltenberg of Norway and Meles Zenawi from Ethiopia, there was no answer to the following question asked by Inner City Press at Thursday's noon briefing:

Inner City Press: On climate change, there are various people saying that, in light of the elections that took place on Tuesday, and Obama, President Obama’s comments yesterday afternoon at a press conference that this makes the passage of climate change legislation less likely in the United States, that this will impact not only the Cancun process, but even this report that the Secretary-General is getting tomorrow. Some that have seen the report say that it assumes a median price of carbon of $25 a tonne by 2020, and if there is no US legislation that will not be accurate. So, I am just wondering what, it’s not so much a comment directly on the elections of what, what does this, what is the Secretariat, and it… the global goods team of the UN, does the results bode well for this report tomorrow and for the process that he is involved in? And, if not, what’s the plan to stay on track with the report that he is getting tomorrow?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, two things. First of all, the key word there is process. It is a process that involves all the countries in the world in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. That is an enormous undertaking, as you know. And it involves all countries. The second point is that the report is being launched tomorrow. And I think it would be better to wait until then. You will have an opportunity to see the report tomorrow.

Inner City Press: Well, I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.

Spokesperson: You’ll find out. And there are other ways to address it, even if it isn’t at the press conference, because of the shortage of time or whatever, but there are always [ways] to address these things.

We'll see. Watch this site.

UN's Sha, the General & Frank Liu: no solo dinner shown

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.

* * *

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

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

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

            Copyright 2006-2010 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -