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At UN, Bed Bugs Move to Capital Master Plan Office, Raising Price for Press Returns

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 25 -- Bed bug infestation of the UN's Albano Building “swing space” on 46th Street was exposed more than a year ago by Inner City Press. An impromptu Town Hall meeting was called, and UN officials assured the staff that everything possible would be done to address the bed bug problem.

On October 25 sources told Inner City Press that, in fact, the bed bug problem has spread, now to the UN's own Capital Master Plan which is in charge of fixing up the UN's building. Inner City Press went to ask CMP spokesman Werner Schmidt to confirm or deny the presence of bed bugs in CMP.

Over the weekend a bed bug sniffing dog checked our office and found [bed bugs] in our conference rooms,” Schmidt to his credit immediately acknowledged.

He said “the conference room chairs were taken away”and that FMS (the Facilities Management Service) is now in charge.

  Back in May Inner City Press reported that a rift had emerged among senior UN officials about inaction on the bedbug infestation. In a memo leaked to Inner City Press by a whistleblower, Under Secretary General Shaaban Shaaban on May 11 wrote of CMP chief Michael Adlerstein that "In my meeting with Mr. Adlerstein five weeks ago, I never agreed that the Albano staff will be stacked there... So, in the stacking proposal you sent to Mr. Nambiar on 4 May 2010... I read in the appendix twice that 'based on initial consultations with DGACM, agreement has been made to retain the use of the Albano Building,' which does not reflect my discussion with Mr. Adlerstein."

  Now bed bugs have been found in Adlerstein's own CMP Office.

UN's Ban and Adlerstein, bed bugs and changing rent to press not shown

Also back in May, Inner City Press reported that
"the memo reveals that Shaaban has been told that his staff, of the Department of General Assembly and Conference Management, may not as promised be allowed to return to their offices in UN headquarters.

"The UN press corps has been told this as well. Their spots on the third and fourth floor, it now appears, may be given for another use. This would leave the press corp in the "whistleblower free zone" above the Library, where all conversations can be heard...The effect would be to drive smaller and more independent press out of the UN, even as the UN gets less and less press coverage, and fewer and fewer reporters attend the UN noon briefing."

   Five months later, the UN press corps has now been told that the plan is, even if they return to the third and fourth floor, they will for the first time be charged rent.

  They say this UN administration's attempt to disclipline or even drive out the independent press continues. Watch this space.

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At UN, of Beepers and Bed Bugs in the Albano Building, Electronic Sign In

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 12 -- Months after Inner City Press exclusively reported that bed bugs had been found in portions of the UN's office space in the Albano Building on 46th Street, and the UN belated confirmed it, the UN has found that there are bugs on almost all floors of the building. A notice was sent out on May 7, provided to Inner City Press by a whistleblower, that

"Dear Focal points, Please be advised that the report came back from the exterminator on the bed bug follow up inspection. The exterminator reported that the dog found problems on almost all floors. The reports says 90% of the building had problems. The exterminator will be fumigating the building on Saturday 08 May 2010 from 9:00am -9:00pm. No staff are allowed in the building while it is being fumigated. All staff are safe to return to the building on Sunday morning. Sorry for the short notice. If you have any questions please feel free to call me. Thanks, Brian Hogan."

The Albano Building houses, among other things, the UN's Text Processing Units. These are about to be subject to an electronic sign in system promoted by Assistant Secretary General Franz Baumann, who tells Inner City Press that when he was at the UN in Vienna, staff had no problem with this system. Here the Staff Union -- both factions -- have opposed by swipe in. But Baumann is pushing forward, as explained in this recent Q & A:

Inner City Press: Can you confirm or deny you have ordered the text processing unit to implement electronic sign-in, despite opposition to it?

ASG Baumann: Nothing has been ordered. But DGACM will introduce the kind of state-of-the art electronic time and attendance keeping system which has been successfully implemented at UNOV/UNODC since 2003 to much acclaim from staff, including the Staff Union there. So, stay tuned. In the meantime, we are discussing details with the staff and the staff representatives of DGACM.

UN's Ban swears in Baumann, staff shown, bugs not

  Inner City Press also asked Baumann about another controversy within the Text Processing Unit(s)

Inner City Press: Can you confirm and explain that you now expect all of this in Text Processing Unit to have (and pay for) their own cell phones, to replace the beeper system you have discontinued?

ASG Baumann: There is not one Text Processing Unit, but six. Staff in these, as in other parts of DGACM, are expected on occasion to be on stand-by - and are compensated for this. During such stand-by periods, staff have to be reachable, whether on their home-phone or, if they choose to be away from home, by other means. It is not a contractual requirement - or a sensible assumption in this day and age - for the Organization to pay for this reachability. Pagers are a - like Morse Code or Telex - a very outdated technology, yet expensive to administer, and their use has indeed been decided to be discontinued by the DGACM Departmental Management Group on the advice of its ICTC Committed.

Several DGACM staff complain that they do not have a cell phone, and should not be required by the UN to get one at their own expense, while others even having one do not view this as a legitimate demand by the UN as employer. There are other views. But so it goes.

Footnote: The most independent judge in the UN's internal justice system has been pressured not to seek re-appointment, Inner City Press is told. Judge Adams, who has issued findings of contempt against the administration of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, his USG Shaaban Shaaban and others, will some staff are saying hear his last case for the UN on May 12. We hope to be there -- and that it's not true. 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.

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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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