Powder Removed from UN for Tests, Cafeteria on Hold, Iran
Celebrates, US Not Seen
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, February 18 -- Six hours after the UN
cafeteria after a suspicious white powder was found in an envelope
the conveyor belt to the dish washer, the powder was removed from the
UN by authorities in New York for further testing.
the UN's contractor Aramark were told to come in Friday morning, an
e-mail to UN staff said that no decision about re-opening the
cafeteria would be made until further tests were conducted.
authorities bought a mobile laboratory into the UN's third
sub-basement. The envelope was brought to the laboratory.
had been the UN's Delegates' Dining Room three receptions were being
held. Iran's mission to the UN offered smoked salmon, hummus and soda
to celebrate the "31st anniversary of the victory of the Islamic
Revolution." Correspondents, some of them like Inner City Press
hungry from the closure of the cafeteria, milled around with
there was an informal women's section, with scarved women chatted and
took photos with each other. A U.S. diplomat told Inner City Press,
"You didn't see me here, I'm upstairs for the Council of Caring
Communities event." The U.S., it seems, did not want to be
associated with the Iranian event.
UN's Ban and Ahmadinejad previously at UN, US not seen
Press chatted with
Georgia's Ambassador, who noted that the UN has yet to replace the
chief of its dwindling mission in Georgia, or Abkhazia.
Ambassador spoke at length with Ban Ki-moon's chief of staff Vijay
Nambiar. Afterwards, the Ambassador told Inner City Press that his
country wants to be taken off the Children and Armed Conflict list,
"since there is no more armed conflict." He said that the
recruiter of children most recently named by the UN "does not
Venezuela threw a party, complete with white wine. A UN Security
office explained to Inner City Press that the response to the powder
was acceptable, adding that "maybe it was drugs." Watch
* * *
UN, "White Powder" Find Forces Cafeteria Lock Down
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, February 18 -- The UN's cafeteria has been shut down after
an envelope with an unidentified white powder was found on the
conveyor belt to the dishwasher, cafeteria sources tell Inner City
of 3 p.m., the lobby of UN headquarters was full of cafeteria workers
and UN security officers. The cafeteria was being "locked down,"
a representative of the UN's contactor Aramark announced. UN Security
told this reporter to leave the area. A cameraman was told not to film.
On the UN campus for a 4 pm
meeting and 4:45 pm press stakeout is former US President Bill Clinton.
Meanwhile, several close observers present noted the lack of NYPD on
UN sent this out:
Temporary Closure of Staff Cafeteria Re Suspicious
The Security and Safety Service is investigating the
presence of a suspicious substance in the Staff Cafeteria. Host
country authorities have been alerted, and are assisting. Access to
the Cafeteria will be restricted while the matter is being resolved.
You will be kept updated as more information becomes
available. The Service appreciates your continued support and
Update of 3:41 p.m. -- Despite the line
that the "host country authorities have been alerted and are
assisting," those in the UN lobby have yet to see any NYPD...
Update of 4:19 p.m. -- told by a source
to go and check the basement, Inner City Press witnessed the entrance
into the lower floor of the cafeteria of NYPD Emergency Service Unit.
Aramark workers have been told that the cafeteria, which was scheduled
to remain open to 7:30 p.m., will not re-open today. Officious suits
milling around in lobby. An NYPD with "Anti-terrorism" jacket on.
UN cafeteria staff mill in lobby, white powder not shown
follows an incident in which white power was found in the
journalists' mailbox area, and where a KFC Colonel Sanders
impersonator was allowed in to meet the President of the General
Assembly Ali Treki. For the later incident, UN Security officer Ralph
Hering is still suspended -- a scapegoat, well informed sources say.
UN cafeteria was closed for the month of January as it was lightly
renovated to accommodate the Delegates' Dining Room, being moved down
from the vacated fourth floor of the UN. What the powder was, and if
dangerous who was exposed to it, is still not known. Watch this site.
Iraq, UN's Melkert Silent on Blackwater and Black Balling of Baath
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, February 16 -- What does the UN's top envoy to Iraq, Ad
Melkert, have to say about the acquittal and impunity for the
mercenaries of Blackwater now Xe who killed Iraqi civilians? "That
is a specific case," Melkert told Inner City Press on Tuesday at
the UN, "we don't advise on specific cases." Video here,
from Minute 11:34.
asked Melkert about a range of human rights issues in Iraq, from
honor killings to executions to freedom of the press. Melkert said
his Office, UNAMI, issues human rights reports every six months,
"critical on several of the issues you mentioned." Video
from Minute 6:03.
how can the UN
be critical if, as Melkert claimed about Blackwater, the UN "doesn't
advise on specific cases?"
right now is, like Kai Eide's was in Afghanistan, to try to make
national elections appear credible. Inner City Press asked him about
barred candidate Saleh Mutlak, who has been told he cannot run for
office because he was a member of the Baath party. Mutlak says he
quit in 1977, and was only goaded into saying he was still a member.
grounds for exclusion "legitimate," and said the UN only
advocates for transparency in the application of the rules, citing
Iraq's "Accountability and Justice Law of 2008." While
speaking about reconciliation, Melkert said that excluding former
Baath party members is similar to what happened in Europe "after
the Communist regimes."
Melkert told Inner City Press that the UN "has a permanent
position against the death penalty" -- one that Ban Ki-moon
backtracked on during his first day in office, on the subject of Iraq
-- when Melkert was asked about the execution of former Baath party
members, he replied, "I could not take your point on that, the
way you formulated it, so I could not comment further."
Melkert and his less than democratic guards in Baghdad
away from the microphone, Inner City Press asked him if he now agrees
with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's call that senior UN system
officials make some minimum public disclosure of their finances.
Melkert laughed and said, "You see that I" -- then signed
his name in the air. "What is good is that you don't forget."
he was the
Associate Administrator of UNDP, he came out publicly against Ban's
call for financial disclosure. Video
from Minute 37:55 through 44:41. He also said, on UN
ain't seen nothing yet." Inner City Press recounted this history
for a Dutch television station tailing and filming Melkert for the
day. Another correspondent criticized Melkert go along [to] get along
performance in Iraq, wondering what next job he might have his eye
Many in the
UN grumble that Melkert "chased" fellow UN
official Ibrahim Gambari out of Iraq. Now it's his show, for better
or worse. Watch this site.