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At UN, Kane Spins Shoot-Down of Ban's Reforms, No DSS Porn Gate or KFC Updates

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 8, UN Jan. 11 response below -- Two weeks after the UN budget season ended, Management head Angela Kane appeared to tell the Press that the session was "productive," and minimized the significance of reform proposals being shot down.

   Inner City Press asked Ms. Kane about the Department of Management's inability to provide information about Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's proposal on continuing contracts, which resulted in the General Assembly keeping the old Staff Rules in place for at least another year.

  Ms. Kane argued that it just made more sense to delay the proposal, that it was not possible to provide the information, particularly about peacekeeping. Inner City Press asked, But weren't the questions foreseeable? Wasn't the shoot down akin to, for example, if U.S. President Obama's health care proposal is shelved for a year by the Congress? This, Ms. Kane did not answer.

 While the New York Staff Union has complained about asbestos work slated for January 8 on floor on which people are still working, the UN's other unions have written to Mr. Ban to complain about his non-implementation of continuing contracts. See SMCC letter to Mr. Ban, Ms. Migiro, Mr. Nambiar, Ms. Kane, Mr. Kim and Ms. Pollard, obtained by Inner City Press and put online here.

   The New York Staff Union complains that Ms. Kane doesn't even respond to their letters. But now the other UN systems unions are complaining too. There is a pattern here.

  Similarly, Ms. Kane earlier told the Press that since she has no time to answer questions about how the UN in managed, all questions should be asked in the noon briefing. But then, it appears, the questions are not passed on to her. Meanwhile, Ms. Kane convened a meeting in 2009 about how to fight back against the Press. Now that the UN press corps is being moved directly under the office Ms. Kane has taken up on the Library's third floor, one hopes for more transparency.

UN's Angela Kane on January 7, Gambari funding, porn gate and other answers not shown

  Other critiques of the Ban administration and her management, Ms. Kane also dismissed or downplayed on Thursday. The General Assembly now demands a new Under Secretary General post to oversee the UN Office in Nairobi. This was a response to Ban's and Kane's ham handed demotion of Anna Tibaijuka, the African woman previously running Nairobi until replaced by the German Achim Steiner.

  The member states push back, but Ban has still not appointed replacement in the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa. Since many Ambassadors are mystified why Ban would "diss" Africa in this way, Inner City Press asked if the post, or the funding, was being applied elsewhere.

  Some for example say that the "Bob Orr post" has its funding cobbled together from different streams. Ms. Kane wouldn't say, and also said she was unaware of Inner City Press' question about how Ibrahim Gambari was paid, between the Myanmar and now disappeared Iraq post.

  On this, Inner City Press has received confirmation from a well placed UN source that Gambari's salary did come from two missions, one of which got cut. Ms. Kane claims this had nothing to do with Gambari being reassigned to Darfur, but an official on the 38th now 3rd floor tells Inner City Press this was a factor in the Darfur "deus ex macina" for Gambari. Watch this site.

Footnote on discipline and punish: even on discipline, little information was provided. Inner City Press asked for an update on the DESA staffer found guilty in Canada of holding child pornography on his flash drive. Even as of Ms. Kane's appearance on October 15, 2009 in Conference Room 8, he still held his job, which Ms. Kane explained as "due process."

  Inner City Press asked on Thursday for an update, but none was provided, nor on the investigation of porn forwarding within the Department of Safety and Security, where the "pre-selected promotions" scandal has yet to be acted on either.

  Similarly, on the case of two DSS officers suspended after a KFC Colonel Sanders impersonator was taken to the General Assembly President's office, Ms. Kane could not say when the investigation was finished nor what had happened. It is in the hands of the program manager, she said. Does that mean DSS? Ms. Kane referred to "Mister Starr," Greg Starr, who has yet to hold a press conference. And so it goes at the UN.

  Finally, some correspondents later on January 7 asked the Capital Master Plan whether a real replacement of the Delegates Lounge will be established in the new North Lawn building. While the CMP says it is up to the contractor Aramark, others say the disappearance of the Delegates Lounge's functions is attributable to Ms. Kane. Watch this site.

Update of January 11, 2010 -- four days after Ms. Kane's press conference, with numerous questions still unanswered, the UN sent the following, calling it "corrections," we publish it in full:

To: Inner City Press
Sent: 1/11/2010 8:32:41 A.M. Eastern Standard Time

Subj: Correction needed in your report on Ms Kane's press conference

In response to your inquiry about UN staff member charged with misconduct, namely, violation of the local laws of Canada, by being charged with and convicted of, the possession and attempted smuggling of electronic images of depicting explicit child pornography, the Organization has separated the staff member from service last year.

In your article covering Ms. Kane's press conference, posted on the Inner City Press website, we wish to inform you to correct the inaccuracy regarding New York Staff Union letters. With regard to the asbestos work, Ms. Kane had responded to the New York Staff Union on 31st December 2009.

  Following Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's townhall meeting with staff on January 11, Inner City Press sought out Ms. Kane's letter, and is informed that

1) the UN Staff Union wrote to Ms. Kane on December 15 asking that all staff be relocated before asbestos work began.

  There was no answer.

2) on December 24, the Staff Union wrote to Ban Ki-moon, attaching a copy of their December 15 letter to Ms. Kane.

3) then, in a December 31 letter, Ms. Kane ignored and denied the December 15 request, saying that the asbestos work with staff in place is safe.  The three letters, obtained by Inner City Press, are being published online here. But where are the other answers? Watch this site.

* * *

At UN, Staff Complain to Ban of Asbestos, Freezing Swing Space, No WiFi

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 5 -- With Secretary General Ban Ki-moon having moved out of UN Headquarters' 38th floor over to the roof of the building called a temporary "Wal-Mart," problems have arising with staff unions and the UN's other "swing space."

  While the New York Staff Union has complained about asbestos work slated for January 8 on floor on which people are still working, the UN's other unions have written to Mr. Ban to complain about his non-implementation of continuing contracts. See SMCC letter to Mr. Ban, Ms. Migiro, Mr. Nambiar, Ms. Kane, Mr. Kim and Ms. Pollard, obtained by Inner City Press and put online here.

  Meanwhile, UN staff working in the Albano Building swing space on 46th Street have received a critical memo from Under Secretary General Shaaban Shaaban. Complaints from those working in Albano have ranged from freezing temperatures to broiling heat.

   Shaaban Shaaban, citing Michael Adlerstein of the Capital Master Plan, essentially blames the staff members for these conditions. He accuses them of leaving windows open, of using fire stairs to smoke, and with fiddling with radiators. If you were freezing, what would you do? Inner City Press obtained Shaaban Shaaban's memo and puts it online here.

Team Ban and George Mitchell in new building, lack of heat and WiFi not shown

  Inner City Press ventured again Tuesday to the new North Lawn building, in search of answers not provided in what's left in Headquarters. There is still no wireless internet in the new building. Somehow it seems that this could and should all have been planned better. Watch this site.

* * *

At UN, China Takes Few Questions, ECOWAS Unheeded on Guinea, Myanmar Waits

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 5 -- As China takes over the UN Security Council presidency for the month of January, at the customary program of work press conference, its Permanent Representative Zhang Yesui took only six questions -- four topics and two follow ups -- and barely answered them.

 One of the questions was from Chinese state owned media Xinhua and was a softball. What is China's thinking in choosing to hold its thematic debate about regional organizations -- including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization -- and how can regional organizations help maintain stability?

  Ambassador Zhang Yesui, seeming entirely prepared for the question, said that often regional organizations know more about the problems that they deal with. He cited the African Union's work on Sudan, and later Somalia -- although that doesn't seem to be going so well -- but he might have mentioned ASEAN and its "hands off Myanmar" stance.

  Some analysts believe that China's and the U.S.'s increasing use of regional organization reflects that militarily dominant countries, not wanting the UN to criticize what they do, from Xinjiang to Afghanistan, like to limit the Security Council's jurisdiction. One test of this will be whether the U.S., up in arms about Yemen, raises the matter at the Security Council.

  Ambassador Zhang Yesui was asked if China thinks that "moderate Taliban in Afghanistan" should be spoken with. He replied that "internal affairs of a state should be determined by its people."

  Surprising, then, that China goes along however reluctantly with the Council's statements on Myanmar, urging the military junta to engage with the opposition and free Aung San Suu Kyi. China, of course, has just imposed an 11 year sentence on Liu Xiaobo. No questions on this, however, were taken at the briefing.

  Ambassador Zhang Yesui said there has been progress with North Korea -- his American counterpart Susan Rice says the same. Kim Jong Il is reportedly headed to Beijing. Meanwhile, the Indian miltary has spoken darkly of "two front" preparations for Pakistan and China, but this rattling of nuclear sabres was not mentioned in the press conference. It's a regional thing.

At UN, President Hu, ECOWAS views not shown

  In the program of work's footnotes is the phrase "Peace consolidation in West Africa." While no question on this was taken, one assumes this means Guinea, the massacre of September 28 and the resulting UN report. A Presidential Statement is being prepared.

  While China may go along with it, China signed a business deal with the junta soon after the massacre. This contradicted the stance of the regional organization, ECOWAS. What was that again, about respect for regional organizations? Watch this site.

* * *

In UN Council, Iran and Guinea But Not Yemen Discussed by Five New Members

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 5 -- In the UN's nearly empty building, 2010 dawned at the Security Council with January's president China serving breakfast and giving photo albums to the other Council members, five of them new this month.

  One of the five outgoing countries pointedly asked, at the Council retreat for the new members, what is the function of the ten non-permanent members, other than to legitimize the decisions of the Permanent Five?

   Croatia, to pick one example, accomplished nearly nothing during its two year stint. (Perhaps explanatory, its Permanent Representative left in scandal, diverting Mission funds for gambling in Las Vegas.)

  Of the incoming members, many are watching Brazil, given its rising power and the outspokenness of President Lula. In late 2009, Brazil wrote a letter to the Council about the safety of its embassy in Honduras, into which the deposed Manuel Zelaya took refuge.

  A Council source told Inner City Press on Tuesday morning that this will have to be reviewed, along with other outstanding items from 2009.

  Amid the clanking of breakfast dishes, various Council members spun the Press on their topics of interest. A Presidential Statement is in the works about the September massacres in Guinea, a "hot issues, on the hot burner," the PRST's drafter gushed.

  On Iran, a well placed Council member said the country's failure to be responsive to the Sanctions Committees letter was helping to build the case for further sanctions. "If there's no regime change before then," quipped another member.

Around the Horseshoe Table, one perm perm rep and reform not shown

  The critical outgoing member has questioned why the Council's Committees are only chaired by non-permanent members. Is it a mark of respect, or of the P-5 trying not to dominate? Or, because the work is large administrative and conducted by lower level bureaucrats, is chairing the committees beneath the P-5 Permanent Representatives?

  Of these five, only four were seen on Tuesday. Missing was the U.S.'s Susan Rice. The U.S. has, some say, thus staked out a position above the over Permanent Four. Now in 2010, will the U.S. which says it wants to use the UN be raising the issue of Yemen? Watch this site.

  Also on the U.S. Mission, at the UN barely a word has been said about the flame out in scandal and withdrawal of the nomination of former Goldman Sachs executive Jide J. Zeitlin to head the Mission's UN reform efforts. Who's next?

Media footnote: while the Council is usually off-limits to the UN press corps, on Tuesday morning the bureau chief of China's state owned Xinhua came smiling out of the breakfast. With human rights issues like Myanmar, Iran, Sudan and Guinea on the Council's agenda, some wonder how China can be an honest broker. We'l be covering this, and secondarily any honest brokering with the press.

 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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