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At UN, Food Workers Face Layoff 4 Days Before Christmas, Amid Corruption

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 7 -- At the UN amid glitz and corruption scandals, and just before Christmas, the food workers of the Delegates Dining Room faced "temporary layoff" into February.

  The letter to the workers to be temporarily laid off, which they provided to Inner City Press, says "Due to the closure of the Delegates Dining Room, you will be placed on temporary lay off... starting Monday, December 21, 2015."  That is, four days before Christmas. Thanks, UN.

The UN's caterer, CulinArt, publicized its service to Pope Francis -- while at the UN telling its food workers to for that day not eat in the cafeteria and mix with delegates, as Inner City Press reported. We'll have more on this.

  Amid a UN scandal of Macau businessman Ng Lap Seng having bought the UN through former President of the General Assembly John Ashe and South South News honcho Frank Lorenzo, there is some talk of reforming the ways in which campaigning to replace Ban Ki-moon as Secretary General can be done. 

 But campaigning for Security Council seats remains entirely unreformed.

 With the collusion of the UN Correspondents Association, which after taking money from Lorenzo's South South News gave Ng a photo op with Ban at Cipriani, the Italy Mission which is running against Sweden and the Netherlands for a Council seat not only handed out free food on December for in the clubhouse the UN gives to UNCA: it posted its Security Council campaign banner inside UNCA, facing out. Photo here.

  Italy's “in” was that not only is one Giampaolo Pioli, without any term limits, still head of UNCA: he now has his former protege, now with ANSA, as a Vice President. 

 This is the same Pioli who not only tried to get the investigative Press thrown out for reporting on his favor to the Sri Lankan ambassador who rented one of Pioli's apartments but also made campaign contributions in a race he was ostensibly covering for his media in Italy, Quotiadiano Nazionale.

   Should journalists give money to politicians they are “covering”? Should a group of correspondents given a room by the UN use it for their country's campaign for a Security Council seat? This is today's UN, and its UN Corruption Association.

  They say there's no free lunch. In today's UN there is Italian food given to scribes to promote a week of for-pay lunches, consonant with Italy's run for a Security Council seat against Sweden and the Netherlands.

  The hosts, the UN Corruption Association UNCA -- now selling seats with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for $6000, see below -- just anointed two Italian journalists among its top five officials, including hold-over president Giampaolo Pioli who has tried to censor and eject the investigative Press, here.

 Absurdly, Pioli's derivative invitation to those who pay UNCA money calls it an “exclusive aperitivo.” Pioli's tenure is marked not only with censorship but also bread and circuses, and events having little to do with the UN, such as the launch of a kid's book by a hedge fund executive. (This on top of screening war crimes denial films for the Sri Lankan ambassador, to whom Pioli rented one of his Manhattan apartments, here.)

  But why would Italy, or separately the three chefs Sonia Balacchi, Filippo La Mantia and Michele Biagiola, think it benefits them to go behind closed doors with a group that has engaged in censorship, and is now selling access to Ban Ki-moon?  Such an event could easily be held in the mission, the UN's Ex-Press Bar, or any number of other locations. It's a (bad) choice, or as some say, an Italian thing. We'll have more on this.

  With the UN embroiled in scandals including the indictments of former President of the General Assembly and Macau businessman Ng Lap Seng and Frank Lorenzo and their South South News, one would expect the UN press corps, even the entity the UN itself chooses to set aside first questions for, to be pursuing rather than be involved in the scandals.

  But with the UN Correspondents Association, this year more than ever, that is not the case. UNCA's just completed"elections" had no competition at all for the officer seats, now doled out to AFP, France 24, the US Broadcasting Board of Governors and ANSA from holdover president Giampaolo Pioli's native Italy.

  This UNCA "leadership" represents Italy and France, and old media -- tellingly, those new media which chose to run (Inner City Press quit UNCA after its censorship bid) for lesser UNCA seats were not selected. Also tellingly, the UN Spokesperson's office promoted the scam election, using its loudspeaker to try to get out the vote (for candidates who had no opponents.)

 The ringmaster, Giampaolo Pioli, came through the UN Security Council stakeout not to ask any question or even listen to answers on South Sudan or Syria; he glad handed his unopposed slate and then headed to the UN bar. He has arranged more Italian toasting, seeingly part of Italy's actually-opposed campaign for a Security Council seat (more on this in future dispatches).

  It's become the UN's Censorship Alliance - having tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN - and the UN Corruption Association, selling photo ops and seats with Ban Ki-moon.  Call them Ban Ki-moon shots.

  While calling for an audit of sale of UN access under John Ashe, should Ban openly allow access to him to be sold? He appears intent on doing so, or operating by inertia, on automatic pilot. Inner City Press now learns that Ban's twice delayed report on the cover up of peacekeepers' rapes in the Central African Republic will be pushed further back, after the sell-out, buried. We'll have more on this.

 UNCA's awards, such as they gave to South South News for money, include awards and payments to entities who've served on their own Board.

  In 2011 under then (and now) president Giampaolo Pioli, UNCA took money from the South South News of now-indicted Ng Lap Seng, then gave South South News an UNCA award and gave Ng Lap Seng a photo op with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

  Now in November 2015, Pioli has solicited $6000 from UN Ambassadors for seats at the “VIP” table at the UNCA “Ball” on Wall Street: to sit with Ban Ki-moon. Here is UNCA's pitch:

"Dear Ambassador,
The United Nations Correspondents Association is honored to invite you to participate and contribute to the 20th annual UNCA Awards event with guest of honor U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, recipient of the 2015 Global Advocate of the Year Award for climate change.  Exclusive raffle prizes include business class airline tickets around the world with hotel accommodations and a grand prize FIAT 500X car. As your esteemed presence will ensure the success of this event, we are pleased to send you the below opportunities to attend the gala dinner:
Mission Table Special Price / $6000 (half-table) 5 seats at VIP table at the gala event
Special Ambassador Contribution / $2,000 -1 VIP ticket for Ambassador with premium seating to dinner + 1 complimentary VIP ticket for spouse or guest -Special acknowledgement of the Ambassador and the Mission in the UNCA Awards Journal of the evening -Additional tickets for UN Diplomats of the Mission can be purchased at the special price of $750 each

Giampaolo Pioli, UNCA President
Please make all checks payable to 'UNCA Awards Committee'
Contributions to the UNCA Awards Committee are tax deductible.
The UNCA Awards Committee is a 501-c(3)"

 This is precisely the type of sale of access involved in the indictments of Ng, Sheri Yan and Frank Lorenzo.

  While others are announcing audits and freezing such contacts, UNCA under Pioli is bulling forward, charging ever more money, getting ever further from journalistic purposes.

  On November 20, Pioli's UNCA circulated a list of candidates with no competition for any of the six officer positions. It also pre-announced its awards, including to Reuters (on its Board) and others. We'll have more on this.

    For the three running unopposed for five president slots, two were already on the UNCA board during the relevant time period; the other is Pioli's former protege at Quotidiano Nazionale. It's an Italian thing.

   Running for Treasurer? It's Agence France Presse, whose previous correspondent tried to use a position on the UNCA board to censor Press coverage of Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row atop UN Peacekeeping.

  Reuters is in the mix, too, and another which joined Pioli in trying to censor coverage of Pioli unilaterally approving a Sri Lankan government war crimes denial film for a “UN” screening, after Pioli rented one of his apartments to Palitha Kohona, Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the UN. This is UN. But amid the new scandals at the UN, this is something new: watch this site.

Footnote: Inner City Press after Pioli's and others censorship bid, and attempt to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN (uncovered along with documents still to be published by a Freedom of Information Act request, here, and questioned by the New York Civil Liberties Union), quit the UNCA board and co-founded, with another who'd quit UNCA as corrupt, the Free UN Coalition for Access.

 FUNCA does not seek any automatic first questions, but opposes the UN setting aside first questions for an entity which, as now shown, is enmeshed in the very UN scandals that must be asked about. Watch this site.


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