UN's Bed Bugs Spread, Incoming Diplomats Warned of Itching, No
Answers, Talk of Gaddafi's Tent
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, September 18 -- As diplomats from all over the world descend
on the UN General Assembly Hall on First Avenue and 45th Street, in
the UN's "swing space" building one block west another form
of infestation has for a second time been concerned, as spreading --
An internal UN directive issued after Inner City Press'
first exclusive report on the infestation urges calm, saying that bed
bugs' "medical significance is mainly limited to the itching and
inflammation from their bites, and in some rare cases, allergic
reported the first find of bed bug on the ninth floor of
the UN's Albano Building, where during the UN's Capital Master Plan the
documents for UN meetings are
prepared, on September 11 and 16. Now, the "infestation"
has spread to other floors, according to the internal UN directive of
control contractors have confirmed an infestation of bed bugs on a
number of floors in the Albano Building. On the advice of the
specialized contractor and in line with industry best practice
extermination measures for the entire Albano Building are being taken
over the weekend of 19 and 20 September and follow up measures will
be taken two weeks later."
is the UN's
busiest week of the year, worst possible time for a bed bug
infestation at the UN. Yet the UN internal directive tries to
downplay the dangers and problems posed by bed bugs:
common concern with bed bugs is whether they transmit diseases.
Although bed bugs can harbor pathogens in their bodies, transmission
to humans is highly unlikely. For this reason, they are not
considered a serious disease threat. Their medical significance is
mainly limited to the itching and inflammation from their bites, and
in some rare cases, allergic reaction."
thousands of dollars trying to get bed bugs out of their houses. If
bed bugs are brought home from the UN, who will pay? Even on the health
issues, the source of the UN's medical advice is not clear.
understood that the bed bugs were introduced by the UN's moving
contractor, which also works other jobs with beds and furniture. This
same company went to the other swing spaces, on Madison, Third and
Second Avenues, and also has already come back and forth into UN
headquarters carrying boxes.
"Gaddafi's tent sounds pretty good now," one wag said, referring to the
Libyan leader's rejected proposal to stay in a tent on the UN's North
Lawn or even Central Park.
UN Capital Master Plan, bed bug infestation not shown
The internal UN
directive says there may be bugs in other UN premises beyond the
46th Street Albano Building:
A broadcast email will provide specific guidance to all affected
staff in the Albano Building on how to leave their workspace when
they finish work before the weekend and regarding their return to
work after the weekend. With the assistance of the pest control
experts, the Facilities Management Service is checking other
buildings for possible infestations and will take other measures as
reported the bed bugs on September 11, and published a leaked
internal confirmation on September 16. On September 17 there was no
UN noon media briefing, only a scripted briefing by Secretary General
Ban Ki-moon at which no such questions were allowed or answered.
was a mid-day UN media briefing on September 18, but it was scheduled
for only 15 minutes. Spokesperson Michele Montas arrived with only
nine of the minutes remaining, read out loud a series of press
releases and then said that no questions could be asked.
She said to Inner City Press, "I will answer you questions later."
from Minute 9:38.
But while Inner City Press submitted a simple question
about the bed bugs to Ms Montas and her Associate, no answer has been
given, and the response appears to be that no answer will be given. If
and when the UN's
actual response on and plan to deal with the now confirmed bed bugs
is received, we will publish it. For now, watch out, and watch this
* * *
UN, Bed Bug Infestation Confirmed, Spread to General Assembly
by Documents Possible, Bug Experts Say
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, September 16 -- Bed bugs infested the United Nations'
so-called "swing space" on 46th Street, where all the
documents for the General Assembly are prepared, Inner City Press exclusively
reported on September 11. Now on September 16, all UN
workers in the UN's Albano Building on 46th Street have been informed
by e-mail that
you might be aware of the recent case of bed bugs infestation on the
9th floor and the fumigation that took place over the weekend. PES
has made an arrangement with the exterminator to come in today
starting at 6:30pm with a dog to go through the entire building and
make sure that there are no other cases. Please inform your staff who
will be here after 6:30pm. I will follow up with PES and ask for a
report of what if anything they found."
writing, that the UN has suffered "bed bug infestation."
Since there are no, or at least few, beds in the UN, it is understood
that the bed bugs were introduced by the moving company which the UN
contracted to move office equipment and belongings from the
Secretariat building to the swing space, between 1st and 2nd Avenue,
so that the Secretariat was be gut rehabilitated under the UN's Capital
bug experts tell Inner City Press, is that full extermination of bed
bugs is difficult and expensive to accomplish and ascertain.
UN's Ban and map of Capital Master Plan, bed
bug infestation not shown
not unforeseeable that bed bugs will be carried back from the swing
space into the Headquarters building, particularly given the volume
of documents that will be processed in the Albano Building for use at
next week's meetings in the General Assembly hall and basement
Venezuela's Hugo Chavez famously said at the General Assembly podium,
giving a speech after George W. Bush, that the place smelled like
sulfur, it may have a different smell next week. Watch -- and smell?
-- this site.
* * *
UN, Bed Bugs But No Medical Service in the Swing Space, Skanska's
Closed Bid Openings
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, September 11 -- With the UN's human resources office moving
out of the Headquarters and to Madison Avenue, stories flow in to
Inner City Press about a total lack of security on Madison, about a
staff member stuck for an hour in an elevator in the Albano Building
swing space on 46th Street, and in a new low, bed bugs in the swing
They were introduced by the moving trucks used to relocate
office equipment there, and now fumigation has been called for. The
UN is bugged, as one wag put it, in at least two ways.
question of the
week is who handles emergencies at the UN and its swing space? On September
City Press asked
On the Medical Service, it’s been reported that now, whereas
people in the past, if people were injured in the building they’d
call the Medical Service. Now everyone is being told that they
should only call 911 if they’re injured either in this building or
in the swing spaces. I wanted to know if you could confirm that and
also the Fire Department has apparently said that they haven’t been
informed of any change in procedures, such that they can with
ambulances and other things access both this building and the swing
spaces. What is the status of that?
Spokesperson: The change in procedure, to call 911 first in an
emergency, is only a change for the UN Secretariat building. The
procedure to call 911 first has always been the case for UN
workplaces other than the Secretariat building.
reason for the current change is the ongoing move of staff out of the
Secretariat, including the imminent move of UN medical services to a
Capital Master Plan renovation swing space location where they’re
no longer co-located with the majority of UN staff. So that is the
reason for that. It is obvious that an expectation for medical staff
to respond on foot to emergencies scattered across the various swing
space buildings is untenable, and would only be a waste of precious
time. The reason for the updated procedure was included recently in
an internal staff announcement. Further, any emergency procedure
should be valid for all times and circumstances. The UN Fire and
Safety Unit is manned 24 hours a day, and after calling 911, it is
the appropriate party to know of an emergency; they are responsible
to ensure site access for 911 responders. If it is appropriate for
the location and circumstances of the incident, the Fire and Safety
Unit will also activate a medical services response, for which we’re
equipped and ready. And so, that is the reason given by the Medical
Service on that.
On the same question, given the shrinking of the Medical division’s
functions, does the Secretariat anticipate the budget continuing to
be as reported, $38 million over every two years, or is the budget
going to shrink if they’re no longer responsible for medical
emergencies in the Secretariat building?
Spokesperson: Budget issues, as you know, are up to the Member
States, so I can’t answer on that.
the budget, the
Secretary General is responsible for making the budget proposals. And
on the evening of September 10, an ambulance was belatedly called for
a person on the ground just inside the UN's fence on First Avenue
between 42nd and 43rd Street.
UN is emptied out en route to swing space, bed bugs
A question posed on September 10 to the
UN's Associate Spokesperson about the incident was not given any
response, by close of business on September 11, when the S-G did not
even issue a statement about 9/11/01, while his Secretariat is
by his former Under Secretary General Robert
Fowler of harboring Al Qaeda sympathizers, click here
to go full circle about Skanska, while it's now said that they open
bids for sub-contracts on a delegated basis from the UN, Skanska
claims that its bid openings are closed to the press and public. But
watch out for the bugs...
* * *
UN, Opaque Moves, Of Skeletons in Closet, Balkan Demands, Cafeteria
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, September 4 -- As the UN empties out, some moves make sense
and others, not so much. The UN Treaty section moved from the
Secretariat building, slated for gut rehabilitation, over to Madison
Avenue, complete with its safes full of treaties. But then UN
Procurement, based not in the Secretariat but already across First
Avenue on 45th Street, also moved to Madison. Already opaque,
distance may lead to even less accountability.
chief Michael Adlerstein, returned from his vacation, has yet to
address these issues. While he had told Inner City Press it could
attend a future Town Hall meeting, he personally reversed the policy
and ordered the Press out. The questions are not limited to
relocation, or the so-called "whistleblower
Adlerstein and his Department of Management boss are building for
press over the library. They include follow up on litigation pending
against a previous Adlerstein job in Sandy Hook, New Jersey.
in his role as a US Park Service administrator, is alleged to have
improperly awarded a lease of Fort Hancock to real estate developer
James Wassel. After ten years of nonperformance, the Park
has finally canceled the 60 year lease. In the run-up, Philip G. Crifasi
Jr. charged that "I am stating that Mr. Wassel, in
coordination with the chairman of the selection committee, Michael
Adlerstein, changed the outcome of the selection committee." Investigators
interviewed, Adlerstein advised that although there was specific
evaluation criteria listed in the RFP, the RFP also stated that NPS
would be selecting the "best proposal." Adlerstein advised
that the questions listed under the evaluation criteria were not the
minimum requirements of the RFP. Adlerstein described that the
criteria within RFP was "desired" by NPS but was not
"required." Adlerstein acknowledged that the wording within
the RFP was "gray" with respect to the questions listed
under the evaluation criteria. According to Adlerstein, NPS selected
the developers who were the best of the respondents to the RFP, not
necessarily the perfect response. Adlerstein stated that WRG was
chosen as the best, not because they were perfect, but because they
were better than the others. According to Adlerstein, NPS was not
looking for perfection."
at the UN
Capital Master Plan, Adlerstein is apparently neither looking for nor
Boxed up and ready to move out of UN, transparency
Meanwhile a vicious circle is occurring in
the UN cafeteria. With fewer people in the building, there are fewer
customers. This leads Aramark, beyond the layoffs already reported
on, to earlier and earlier in the day put away the salad dressing,
and now the by-the-ounce entrees. By 7 p.m. on September 3, all that
was offered was the UN's Ramadan meal, for a total of nine dollars.
Many staff threw up their hands.
fighting footnote: At the UN things are very genteel and classy, the
revolving door is velvet, until the gloves come off. On the night of
September 2 there was a reception for a long time journalist going
over to the dark side as some put it, to work for the Bosnian
mission. There was Mumm champagne and cheese cubes and crackers. The
Deputy Permanent Representative of a Balkan country spoke, praising her
hire. And then around seven she left.
is relayed to Inner City Press by the security personnel involved.
The DPR as they call her went through the General Assembly or
Visitors' Entrance to try to exit at the 46th Street gate. But it was
closed, locked up at seven on the dot. She returned to the South
Lobby, four blocks south, and she was steamed. She demanded to know
why the north gate had been locked. The timing was explained to her.
changed, and she demanded to speak to the supervisor. He is in
the back, she was told, past the UNFCU and Chase ATM machines. No,
she demanded, have him come out here. Passersby gawked. She demanded
to know who made it illegal to smoke. And then in a puff of smoke she
was gone. "Write about it," it was suggested.
* * *
At UN, of
Brass Knuckles and Fire Hazards, Shared
Printers and Costly Two Month Digs
Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, August 31 -- An
employee of the UN's
general contractor Skanska was stopped entering the UN with a pair of
brass knuckles with spikes on them, multiple sources have confirmed
to Inner City Press. The UN Capital Master Plan, which previously
tried to downplay safety incidents in which a person was hit in the
head with a cement bar, and where a Siamese connection to provide
water to the Fire Department was blocked, has yet to speak on this
brass knuckles incident.
Meanwhile, a recent
workshop presentation by
the UN Development Program's Jan
Vandemoortele in basement
Conference Room A was so over-attended that fire code occupancy was
wildly exceeded. The UN's reaction was simply to bar any more people
from entering. Is that what the law requires? Or is the UN claiming
that, as international territory, it is not subject to the fire code
notices posted on its walls?
The overall trend without
question is that the
UN Headquarters building is emptying out. But in some cases people
are moving in, a result of lack of planning. On the 13th floor, for
example, vacated space is being filled by the Department of
Peacekeeping Operations, sources say, and money is being spent and
wasted on renovating offices for them which will only be used for a
On the 17th floor, a team from
ERP -- Enterprise
Resource Planning -- has set up shop, with a single printer, sources
say. People have to wait to exchange a USB plug to print documents.
CMP / Skanska-ites breaking, the brass knucklehead
Over in the Albano Building
swing space, a form of
crackdown has begun. Since one has to have a differently coded ID
card to go enter each floor, collaboration has been become nearly
impossible, people say. They tape the doors open so they don't lock,
but then face a crackdown, including on small refrigerators they
brought to save time and money on lunch. Many such fridges, then,
have been left abandoned on the vacated floors of the Secretariat
building. Can you say freon, and lack of recycling planning?
It's reached a point, some say,
where some say that CMP, rather
than Capital Master Plan, stands for Cannot Manage Planning. Watch
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
12 debate on Sri Lanka http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/17772?in=11:33&out=32:56
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.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017
earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.
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