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Amid Kyrgyz Crackdown & Failure to Protect, Obama Meeting May Miss Human Rights, OSCE Police Assistance Group

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 22 -- Three months after the pogroms in southern Kyrgyzstan, US President Barack Obama is set to meet with Kyrgyz interim leader Rosa Otunbayeva on Friday in New York.

  It is one of President Obama's few bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the UN General Debate, but when Inner City Press on Tuesday asked State Department spokesman PJ Crowley whether the President will raise issues of human rights and the protection of civilians, Crowley responded only in terms of regional stability, which most took to mean the maintenance of the US base in the country.

  Meanwhile, Otunbayeva's government has refused to follow through the sign the memorandum of understanding allowing the deployment of the international Police Assistance Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in advance of the October 10 parliamentary election.

   Inner City Press asked Crowley if Obama would be raising this. Crowley said that he wouldn't speak for the President in advance of the meeting.

Ethnic Uzbek human rights defender Azimjon Askarov only a week ago was sentenced to life imprisonment for alleged involvement in the death of a police officer in Bazar-Kurgan after a trial dominated by a second round of mob violence. Inner City Press asked Crowley if the President would be raising this case in the meeting. Again, there was no answer.

  There has still been no outside investigation of the causes of the pogroms against ethnic Uzbeks in southern Kyrgyzstan. Rather, as of August the Kyrgyz prosecutor's office said that of 243 people in detention, fully 214 were Uzbek. The UN, after mentioning the word accountability, has done little to follow through. Will the US?

In Osh, ethnic Uzbek shock & awed, Obama concern not shown

  In the run up to Obama's visit to the UN General Assembly, his advisor Samantha Power and spokesman Ben Rhodes told the Press of his administration's and Ambassador Susan Rice's many achievements on human rights at the UN. In the case of Kyrgyzstan, the US had yet to do much. Will Obama's bilateral meeting with Kyrgyz interim leader -- and former UN staff member -- Rosa Otunbayeva change that? Watch this site.

Footnote: Kyrgyz leader Otunbayeva abruptly canceled her press conference set for the UN on Tuesday at 2:30. An hour and a half later, Secretary of State Clinton, after her meeting with the Middle East Quartet, was scheduled to appear at a 4 pm press conference at the UN on the topic. The presser was canceled, Inner City Press was told by the UN, due to a power outage. But Clinton's name plate wasn't on the rostrum, even before the lights went dim.

Crowley said that Clinton had planned to meet with Tony Blair. But as one reporter pointed out, Blair's name plate WAS on the rostrum. More than a little strange.

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At UN, Evo Morales Calls Colombia “US Candidate,” IMF Praise Out of MDG Document

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 21, updated -- With Colombia running for a seat on the UN Security Council, several leftist countries in Latin America have been grumbling. Inner City Press asked Bolivian President Evo Morales on Tuesday for his nation's view. After asking a second time, Morales said Colombia “is a candidate of the United States.”

  Earlier, Inner City Press asked Morales about the International Monetary Fund, criticism of which was proposed for the MDG Summit outcome document by Bolivia, Venezuela and others, but which was edited out.

  Morales replied that the IMF is guilty of “blackmail,” such as applying pressure for privatization. In the press conference before Bolivia's, Venezuela's Permanent Representative to the UN Jorge Valero told Inner City Press that at least a portion of the document what would have praised the IMF and World Bank had been removed.

  Valero declined Inner City Press' question about Colombia, saying that relations are going better with the country and it is in the hands of Hugo Chavez. Neither did he answer what had happened to the earlier prediction his country would head the Group of 77 this year: Argentina has now gotten the spot.

Evo Morales at UN, G-77, Argentina replacing Venezuela not shown

  Morales was asked how the Obama administration has treated Bolivia. Badly, Morales said, questioning how an African American could mistreat an indigenous person, noting various forms of US aid that have been cut. [See response of P.J. Crowley of US, below.]

Inner City Press had wanted to ask Morales for his views on immigration, but time did not permit. His Ambassador to the UN Pablo Solon said he will speak again later in this week. Watch this site.

Footnote: Evo Morales' press conference as a head of state was rare this eye. Earlier on Tuesday, Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan was replaced by his foreign minister, just as Hugo Chavez was replaced by Ambassador Valero. But Rosa Otunbayeva of Kyrgyzstan, slated for a 2:30 press conference, canceled altogether. Another US candidate? Barack Obama has having one of his few bilateral meetings with her, on Friday. Watch this site.

Update of 7 p.m. -- at a briefing across from the UN at the US Mission, Inner City Press asked P.J. Crowley of the US State Department about what Morales said, about aid and Colombia.
  Crowley said that US aid to Bolivia has been "restructured" based on conditions on the ground making Bolivia "ineligible" for U.S. aid.

  Crowley did not answer on Colombia. But, in response to Inner City Press' question of whom the US supports between Germany, Portugal and Canada for the two Western European and Other Group seats on the Security Council, Crowley said "I'm quite confident we will not" describe "our deliberation on votes" for seats at the UN. 
   But the US has made much of seats it opposed Iran for, to answer criticism of Iran gaining a seat on the Committee on that Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women....

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Lamy of WTO Lashes Out at India Cotton Export Restriction, Admits US & China Power

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 20 -- Are the World Trade Organization powers “of the U.S. and Tonga, China and Vanuatu” the same? “Of course not,” WTO Director General Patrick Lamy told the Press on Monday at the UN. Inner City Press asked Lamy about powerful countries' domination of the WTO, and about export controls recently imposed by WTO member India on cotton and non WTO member Russia on wheat.

Lamy held off criticizing India, but said that “economists will tell you that import controls and export controls are similar animals” in their impacts. He projected that the WTO may adopt stronger export control restrictions, while still leaving the “flexibility” it allows on some import controls.

On the question of governance, Inner City Press asked Lamy to contrast the WTO with the IMF and the UN General Assembly, where he and the IMF's Dominique Strauss Khan had just delivered speeches at the Millennium Development Goals Summit. (DSK's speech, in English, avoided the issue of the IMF requiring Pakistan to pledge not to seek relief of its $500 million annual debt payments in exchange for $450 million post flood loan.)

Lamy acknowledged that the U.S. and China are power players in the WTO, but said that under the consensus system, the “weak can band together” and have power too.

UN's Ban and WTO's Lamy previously, one critiques India, the other makes nice on Kashmir
  As his example, he used the African Group's position on EU and US cotton subsidy restrictions. But what will India say about Lamy's criticism of their policies? Watch this site.

Footnotes: Lamy declined to comment on Japan's WTO case against Canada on Green Energy and solar panel subsidies, so Inner City Press didn't even try to ask about Vietnam's case against the US imposing anti-dumping penalties on that country's shrimp. But that too is interesting, post BP oil spill, as regards the MDGs...

  In terms of the UN's hosting of the MDG Summit, the wireless Internet in the General Assembly barely works, and UN Webcast archives haven't been updated since Friday, September 17, omitting for now all of Sunday's stakeouts and everything today.

 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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