Is Booed at Fundraiser, Chinese-Only Briefing, Sri Lanka
September 22 -- The diplomatic action moved outside of the
UN on Wednesday night, as the MDG Summit
ended with a whimper.
Journalists in the UN Media Center were told they'd have to leave a
half hour after the General Assembly session stopped, so that power
could be turned off and checked after Tuesday's power outage which
canceled the press conference of the Middle East Quartet.
set sail out to Lexington Avenue, where in the first floor Stuyvesant
Room of the Marriott Hotel it had been invited to cover a press
conference by the Press Center of the Chinese Delegation. Inside
there were perhaps a dozen reporters, all Chinese. The moderator
asked, “Do we have to do this in English?”
Obama, meanwhile, went to the Roosevelt Hotel to raise money. He was
booed by AIDS activist and a man chanting about “Don't Ask, Don't
Tell.” There was a $15,200 dinner with Presidential “photo
reception.” Present were Nancy Pelosi and Charlie Rangel, as well
as Barbara Streisand and James Brolin.
in the day
on 47th Street and First Avenue, Tamils bussed in from Canada held
pictures of bodies charred in the Sri Lankan government's “bloodbath
on the beach” of May 2009. They spoke of Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon's slow to begin panel of experts, hoping that it might expand
its mandate and do justice. One hope they aren't holding their
UN's Ban and US' Obama, power outage not shown
spoke of Sri
Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, staying in the Waldorf Astoria
Hotel in a surprisingly large number of rooms. Over at the Waldorf,
an entire side street was shut down, as diplomats from smaller
countries milled around looking for restaurants and other
on the MDG Summit outcome document
continued in the General Assembly past 9 pm, with Observers speaking
about conservation, the Order of Malta, democracy and even the
Olympics. Only at the UN.
What will be
accomplished at Friday's Sudan meeting? What will be said at Iranian
President Ahmadinejad's press conference, now re-scheduled for Friday
at 11 am at the Warwick Hotel on 54th Street and Sixth Avenue? Watch
in Wednesday, many press conference and stakeouts were
unceremoniously canceled. Chile's new President Pinera canceled his
presser, such that questions of the Mapuche could not be raised.
Ukraine's President Yanukovych changed his stakeout from 7 pm to 6 pm
then canceled it, allowing for no questions about the IMF, EU or
beaten journalist Furmanyuk in Donetsk. Then again, the Middle East
Quartet canceled a much larger press conference, due to the power
outage. At Wednesday's
noon briefing, Inner City Press asked:
Press: On the switch question about power lines. I mean, I
understand things happen.
Nesirky: Yes, they do.
Press: But given that the building is totally brand new and
quite a bit of money was spent building it, is there some reaction
from the UN that on probably its most important day so far in the new
building, that such a thing could happen; that the Quartet press
conference would be cancelled? I mean what steps are being taken to
find out? Is there some recouping of money from Skanska, or who made
the mistake that led to the cancellation of the Quartet press
Well, let’s look at the big picture here, Matthew. Yes, it was
not desirable that the journalists who had been expecting a press
conference were disappointed that the press conference did not take
place. But there were many other meetings that were taking place in
that building at that time where people were working without
microphones in some cases; meetings that had already started and
continued after the power failed. So, it’s a bigger picture. Nobody is
thrilled that, as you say, yesterday of all days that there
was a technical glitch of that kind. And I know that people are
looking into this. It was a short-circuit — if you want to get
technical — in a major circuit breaker box, and there was also a
failure in a rented back-up generator. And the short-circuit was
caused by a cable with damaged insulation. And I can tell you that
people were working from when this first happened, at 1:20 p.m.,
working very hard to solve this and to fix it, and power was
eventually restored throughout by 8:00 in the evening. So, people…
I never was very good at do-it-yourself, so I don’t know the
details. But on your specific point, we can ask CMP, the Capital
Master Plan people, what the score is.
score? Watch this site.
* * *
UN's Ban Won't Comment on Debt, Tax Havens or Zapatero Dodging
September 22 -- With the Millennium Development Goals having
been discussed at the UN for three days, Inner City Press asked
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to respond to a critique that the MDGs
look only at the symptom and not causes of poverty. UN transcript
here and below.
is owned by poor countries in foreign debt. Over $124 billion a year
flow through offshore tax havens. Inner City Press asked Ban about
both of these.
“those issues which you raised have been
the subjects which have been discussed in the international
community. I think it's not appropriate for me to discuss those
matters here at this time.” If not now, during the MDG Summit,
Wednesday, when it suddenly became clear that questions would be
taken at the meeting of Ban's MDG Advocacy Group, Inner City Press
ran from the UN correspondents' area over the library, through the
garage and a metal detector check, through the General Assembly lobby
and media room, only to be stopped by security. Armed with a floor
pass, Inner City Press proceeded, reaching the ECOSOC chamber ten
minutes before the Q&A session ended.
Martin Nesirky shook his head, running his finger across his throat,
it's over. Nevertheless he called on Jeffrey Sachs to issue a
duplicative answer to a question.
Press wanted to asking, as well as about debt and money laundering,
was the sudden departure of co-chair Zapatero of Spain. In the first
Advocacy Group meeting in Madrid, Zapatero refused to meet with his
co-chair Paul Kagame of Rwanda, who is being sued in Spain for war
Zapatero left to return to business in Madrid. Nesirky did not allow
the question during the Advocacy Group's media availability. At noon
in the briefing room, he told Inner City Press to asked the Spanish
Mission about Zapatero's departure.
can Ban's and
the UN's MDG Advocacy Group function with two co-chair who won't
meet? Watch this space.
UN's Ban and Zapatero, Kagame & answers on debt
& tax havens not shown
City Press asked Michelle Bachelet about the Advocacy Group, in
which she served until being named head of UN Women. Bachelet dodged
on the Zapatero Kagame relationship, as well as on Inner City Press'
question if she would finally bring zero tolerance to sexual abuse
and exploitation by UN peacekeepers. Watch this site.
of September 22:
Press: On the MDGs, there's a criticism made by the Special
Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Mr. [Olivier] de Schutter, where he
says that the MDGs may be just treating the symptoms. He points to
things like off-shore tax havens, and the ability of leaders to take
money out of their countries, and he points to debt relief, the debt
service by poor countries adding up to about $500 billions. So he
says that there is danger of focussing on charity as opposed to
structural things that hurt poor countries. I wanted to have your
response to that, also, one thing I noticed this morning is that, of
your two co-chairs, Mr. Zapatero left. I know that in Madrid, the two
didn't meet because of sort of war crimes and other issues. Have
those issues been resolved and could the two men work together to
promote MDG Advocacy Group?
There should be no mix-up between development and politics.
Prime Minister Zapatero explained to me two days ago that because of
his very urgent domestic issues, he had to go back. That I
understood. Because, every leader, they may have certain domestic
issues on which they have to put priority. The MDG Advocacy Group
meeting today was, I think, a great success. You have seen such a
strong commitment among, not only MDG advocates, champions, but all
other leaders participating in that. And for other matters, I think
all those issues which you raised have been the subjects which have
been discussed in the international community. I think it's not
appropriate for me to discuss those matters here at this time.