Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg Nigeria, Zim, Georgia, Nepal, Somalia, Azerbaijan, Gambia Click here to contact us     .


Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


Subscribe to RSS feed

Video (new)

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

As UN Takes $2m for Mines from Association Silent on Its Budget, Excludes Press, Writes It Own Feel Good Story

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 28. updated -- In covering the UN, Inner City Press is often asked by UN officials to “write more positive stories,” and tries to. Friday in front of the General Assembly, it was suggested that a ceremony later that morning in the Indonesian Lounge next to the GA would provide some “feel-good” news.

  “Just get someone from MALU” -- the UN's Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit -- “to escort you,” Inner City Press was told. Ten minutes before the ceremony, to mark a $2 million contribution from the International Road Transport Union (IRU) to the UN Mine Action Service for use in Afghanistan, MALU arrived.

  Inner City Press was escorted to an area just outside the Indonesian Lounge, where two bottles of champagne waited along with a half dozen glasses. In the front part of the lounge, Inner City Press was greeted by the Permanent Representatives of Kazakhstan, Iraq and Chad.

  Then a representative of the Mine Action Service arrived, calling himself “Lee,” and said that he was sorry to inform Inner City Press but “some Ambassadors” did want it to cover the ceremony. Not to worry, he said, Mine Action director Maxwell Kerley would give an interview after the ceremony.

  Inner City Press walked to the entrance of the ceremony and was told by the head of the UN Department of Peacekeeper Operations Rule of Law office Dmitry Titov that the event was private. But behind him, there was a television crew and a still photographer in front of the microphone.

  Inner City Press objected that the UN is not free to allow in some accredited journalists and not others. “They are getting paid,” was the response. Inner City Press asked who they were, and after several refusals to answer was told they were from Zvezda TV, and are accredited by the UN and its MALU.

  A woman from Peacekeeping came out and said no answer could be given until the ceremony was over (and could no longer be covered by Inner City Press). She said she would call Protocol.

  Inner City Press waited until the ceremony, filmed by the Russian TV crew, was over. The Mine Action spokesman Lee, believed from the UN's staff roster to be Edward Lee Woodyear, then brough Maxwell Kurley over.

 Kurley said that the Russian TV crew was making a documentary about the International Road Transport Union. Inner City Press asked who had thought to direct the donation to Afghanistan, the UN or IRU? We suggested Afghanistan, Kerley said.

  Minutes later, deputy Secretary General of the IRU De Pretto told Inner City Press that his organization had suggested Afghanistan, as it has an interest the entire Silk Road. In order to put the $2 million into context, Inner City Press asked what the annual budget of the IRU is.

  I'm not going to tell you, De Pretto answered.

From outside UN Lounge, Kerley & De Pretto, Titov blocks camera

 Inner City Press asked, are you a non-profit? Yes, De Pretto said, but in Geneva, not the United States. He said that the American Truckers Union is part of the IRU. Inner City Press asked if IRU has a position on Mexican trucks in the US. We are against protectionism, De Pretto answered.

Kerley said that the $2 million will not be subject to competitive bidding, but rather proposals from five local NGOs. The work of removing mines, at least in this case, is not done by the UN. On his way out, Chad's Permanent Representative told Inner City Press dismissively that his country doesn't use the use for mine removal, “we deal with the Canadians bilaterally,” cutting out the middle man.

 Update: that's apparently what the UN wants to do, cut out the middleman of an independent press. Hours after excluding such Press from its ceremony, the UN's News Service published this.

Inner City Press still wants to cover positive UN stories. Watch this site.

* * *

As in Gabon Obame Seeks UN Support, Echoes of Cote d'Ivoire & UNDP in Yemen

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 27 -- In Gabon opposition leader Andre Mba Obame declared himself his country's real leader -- taking a page from Alassane Ouattara in Cote d'Ivoire -- and sought both UN recognition and protection.

In the latter, his precedent may have been the UN mission in Guinea Bissau, where an indicted drug kingpin enjoy UN protection for months a year ago. Inner City Press has repeatedly asked the UN why it protected a drug kingpin and was told, in essence, it was hard to get him to leave.

On January 26, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson's office what was happening in Gabon, and some hours later received the following back in response:

From: Deputy Spokesperson [at]
Date: Wed, Jan 26, 2011
Subject: Re: Press questions: Gabon, withholding, 99% public financial disclosure, Somalia, Cote d'Ivoire, CAR elections (5th time)

On Gabon, we have the following: Mr. Andre Mba Obame, Leader of the “Union Nationale”, is in the UN compound, along with party leaders. Obame handed a letter to the Resident Coordinator requesting UN protection, stating that they fear for their lives if they step outside of the UN office. The Resident Coordinator is consulting with authorities on the ground and with UN Headquarters.

The government of Ali Bongo has dissolved Obame's party and blocked his TV station.

Street calls for democracy: UN double standards not shown

 One difference in how this will play out, a cynic opined, is that Gabon happens to be on the UN Security Council and could make its voice heard. Watch this site.

Footnote: Obame and his band of 20 sought refuge in the UNDP building in Libreville. In terms of UNDP's position on democracy, while protesters in Yemen are now calling for Tunisia style changes, Helen Clark was just in Yemen for days, praising the government. Maybe the Yemeni government used her and the UN?

* * *

At UN on Tunisia, Pillay Considers Visit But Ban Does Not, Double Standard Alleged

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 17 -- While in Tunisia Ben Ali's foreign minister Kamel Morjane, who served for years as deputy to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, still remains in his post, in New York on Monday Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky if there is any discussion of sending a UN team to Tunis.

  “Not to my knowledge,” Mr. Nesirky said. Video here, from Minute 19:48.

  Sources tell Inner City Press that the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights contacted Ban Ki-moon's office to say that it is considering sending a mission to Tunisia and wanted to know if Ban's Secretariat is also making such plans, in order to coordinate.

  Ban's Office according to sources within it subsequently answered no, no plans for a mission to Tunisia.

   The sources describe a background memo to Ban about Tunisia, urging that he support efforts to override a two month Constitutional period to form a new government, granting six months so that "Communists and Islamists" don't have an advantage over "moderate forces."

  At Monday's noon briefing Nesirky was asked why Ban has been so weak in his response to Tunisia. While Nesirky contested this, some compare the response to that in Cote d'Ivoire, where Ban urged the UN General Assembly's credentials committee to remove recognition for Laurent Gbagbo's UN ambassador.

  Inner City Press asked President of the General Assembly Joseph Deiss if any similar move is afoot in the GA's credentials committee regarding Tunisia. “Not so far,” Deiss answered, explaining that the Ambassador appointed under Ben Ali had yet to be contested. Video here, from Minute 19:57.

UN's Ban & Mohamed Ghannouchi, still Prime Minister of Tunisia

  Last month Inner City Press questioned Tunisia's Ambassador in press conference at the UN after he bragged about human solidarity and banking in his country. Inner City Press asked about the youth conference Tunisia had said that it would hold. The Ambassador blamed other states for not coming through on financial pledges.

In New York over the weekend, while there was rally in Union Square, Tunisia's elegant Mission just north of the UN was not targeted. Watch this site.

 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.

* * *

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

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -