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In Michigan, Sanders' Upset Win Follows Focus on Bank Bailouts, Darfur Echo

By Matthew Russell Lee

PRIMARY-LAND, March 8 -- With his back to the wall after losses in Southern primaries, Bernie Sanders scored an upset win in the Michigan primary on March 8.

  It came after Sanders grew less reticent in linking front-runner Hillary Clinton with the deregulation of banks and the bailouts that followed, increasingly demanding that Clinton release the transcripts of paid speeches she gave at Goldman Sachs and elsewhere.

  While most of Sanders' program is understandably domestic, it is noted that in 2006 he was a co-sponsor of a consensus resolution supporting a peacekeeping mission in Darfur. (Sanders' views of the UNAMID mission under Herve Ladsous covering up mass rapes in Tabit, for example, are not yet known.)
  Hillary Clinton, with her stint as US Secretary of State, has a more extensive foreign policy record, as reflected in the released email Inner City Press reviewed, in mid-February 2016, here.

  Back on January 17, the Iran deal's Implementation Day, and mutual freeing of detainees including Jason Rezaian with the United States, inevitably came up in the Democratic Party debate in South Carolina, albeit late in the proceedings.

  Hillary Clinton took credit for the sanctions on Iran and called this merely one good day in 36 years. She cited what she called Iran's “bad behavior” in Yemen -- with no mention of airstrikes including on Doctors Without Borders facitilities by the Saudi-led, US-supported Coalition.

   Bernie Sanders cited Goldman Sachs a half dozen times, asking why its executives are not in jail while people caught with marijuana are; he pledged if President not to name a Treasury Secretary from Goldman Sachs, which would be a change. (Click here for Inner City Press' work on Goldman Sachs including a FOIA response showing the Federal Reserve's solicitude for Goldman, offering merger advice and pre-approval on the weekend.)

  Martin O'Malley, who has since dropped out, late in the debate brought up the mis-treatment of Puerto Rico; earlier in the campaign he wrote an op-ed about the UN's impunity for bringing cholera to Haiti. The UN barely comes up in these debates, but they will have an effect on UN Secretariat. It is, however, Obama who will have the US' veto during the selection of the Next SG in 2016. Watch this site.

Back in December the Syria resolution adopted by the UN Security Council after the closed door sessions at the Lotte New York Palace on December 18 was widely described as weak or vague by diplomats at the UN.

  But at the December 19 Democratic Party debate in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton repeatedly cited the resolution as a new beginning. Clinton took credit for the resolution, saying it grew out of her work in Geneva.

  Martin O'Malley, who earlier tried to sputter in to contrast Leahy to Bernie Sanders, said we should “spring-board” off the UN Security Council resolution.

  This stood in contrast to the near absence of the UN from the Republican debates. There was at least one echo: Bernie Sanders' questioning of regime change in Iraq, Libya and now attempted in Syria was similar to the positions of Rand Paul and some others on the Republican side. Sanders also called out Saudi Arabia for making war on Yemen instead of ISIS, and Qatar for its spending on the World Cup.

   O'Malley used the “G-word,” genocide, with regard to Chaldean Christian in Syria. Inner City Press wondered whether Africa, other than oblique references to Libya, would come up in the Democratic Party debate, much less Burundi. We're stilll waiting. Watch this site.

In the Lotte New York Palace Hotel on December 18, ministers Lavrov and Gentiloni, Fabius and Kerry passed through with entourages; UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon left early typically without answering any questions. Hours later, the draft resolution was agreed to, then adopted 15-0 by the UN Security Council, here.

 The US day ended in a bilateral meeting between Iranian minister Zarif and John Kerry -- a photo spray was canceled -- and a low key meeting on Iraq and Turkey that we'll report on next. Now that the US has transcribed the climax of Kerry - Lavrov.

  That Kerry's spokesman John Kirby, who ran the press conference, gave the second question to the Washington Post, and the third to Russian media, was perhaps understandable. But the first question, Kirby set aside for “Al Arabiya.”  The question quickly turned into three, after being branded for “UNCA,” now the UN Corruption Association, a group which sold seats with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for $6000 only earlier this week.

 We now add: UNCA gave one of its prizes, a free trip to Turkey, to one of its Vice Presidents, from Agence France Presse. Even Kellogg's prohibits its employees from competing for its prizes. But not UNCA, which ignoring the Iraq - Turkey meeting in the Security Council was trying to buy people with Prosecco on December 18, after selling seats with Ban for $6,000.

  Several other UN-based journalists -- not (only) this one -- complained afterward that the first question and attempted follow up were a “Saudi circus” which made the UN press corps look bad -- as did attempt to throw out certain journalists, photographers, from the front row at the beginning.

   Afterward a photo spray of a meeting between Kerry and Iran's Zarif was declared “by invitation only” and then canceled. In the Security Council, with very few journalists still at the stakeout, the US presidency began the meeting on Iraq's complaint against Turkey being in its territory. We'll have more on this.

After the vote inside the Council Lavrov said, “The unanimous adoption today on the Council has created a broad front on the basis of the UN Charter, on the basis of all of those who are pushing back against terror, including the Syrian army, [some] armed militias, parts of the Syrian opposition, and the Russian air forces, in response to the legitimate request of the Syrian government."

Inside as Nasser Judeh of Jordan spoke, UN TV cut repeatedly to Syria's Bashar Ja'afari, looking more and more skeptical. France's Fabius spoke briefly and left. Outside at the stakeout, talk turned to a Kerry press conference, open to all.

 Italy's Paolo Gentiloni, by contrast, scheduled a press availability only for Italian media. A wag from the Free UN Coalition for Access asked, Isn't Gentiloni the foreign and not interior minister? Isn't he running for a Security Council seat? We'll have more on this.

In the  hotel lobby in the late morning a Permanent Five member of the Security Council's spokesperson briefed a gaggle of journalists in the lobby amid hissed that it was “off the record.”

  There was a gingerbread model of the NY Palace hotel which, the sign said, took 300 hours to make. All that was lacking, one wag - this one - snarked on Twitter, was a little gingerbread Laurent Fabuis.

 Back that UN, the 1 pm stakeout by the EU's Mogherini was postponed and then canceled. The Security Council scheduled for 3 pm got pushed back to 4.  Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric if Ban had spoken, what would he have said? Vine here.

On December 17, the day before Syria talks resumed at the New York Palace Hotel in Manhattan, finance ministers spoke in the UN Security Council about cutting off financing for ISIS. French finance minister Michel Sapin spoke darkly of the use of pre-paid cards for the November 13 Paris attacks; Russia's Ambassador Churkin named two Turkish companies as involved in ISIS oil sale.

  Inner City Press asked Syria's Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari, who came to take questions at the Council stakeout, about ISIS' oil. He named Turkey, then want on to name Qatar and Saudi Arabia, slamming its “Sunni coalition” recently announced.

  When US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, along with Sapin and the UK's George Osborne held a short press conference in the UN briefing room, Inner City Press hoped to asked Sapin about pre-paid cards, and Lew and Osborne about Bitcoin. But the question, just four, were limited to Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, the New York and Financial Times. So it goes.

   It seems there will be no Press access at the New York Palace; Ja'afari has said he will speak, at the UN, and whatever ISSG press availability there is should be at the UN, with a 3 pm meeting on December 18 scheduled. Watch this site.

Back on December 8, Inner City Press put thee questions to  Turkey's Ambassador Cevic. Video here.   Here's fast transcript by

Inner City Press: On Syria, do you think the Vienna process meeting should take place in New York on the 18th? Are you satisfied with the Saudi process for choosing the opposition?

Amb Cevik: The plans, I don’t know how fixed, I mean how clear it is, but we are making our preparations for the meeting.

Inner City Press: Are there any groups invited to Saudi Arabia that you think shouldn’t be part of the opposition delegation?

Amb Cevik: I think so far, in our view, they are working on the right concept. Let’s see if they succeed. Having a coalition group that would be able to take part in the process is one of the most important things.
Inner City Press: [Russia] said the group that killed their pilot should be put on the terror list. Do you have any view on that?

Amb Cevik: If they know the specifics, I don’t know. But to our knowledge, there was no terrorist organization, no extreme Daesh, Nusra, in that area. They are the Turkomens, and we know them, they are moderate people.

  This may be an issue. Watch this site.

Watch this site.


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