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At UN, Taylor Swift's “Launch” Quietly Canceled After Questions, UN Leaves Door Open

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 25, updated -- More than a month ago, following reports that musician Taylor Swift would “launch her album 'Speak Now' at the UN on October 25,” Inner City Press asked the UN how and why its premises were being used to promote a commercial venture.

   Was Ms. Swift being named a Goodwill Ambassador or pledging proceeds to some peacekeeping mission?

  The UN responded the next day that “In response to a question asked on Thursday about the singer Taylor Swift, the Spokesperson said that Ms. Swift's album launch has been booked at the Delegates Dining Room as an external event. There is no UN office involved in this event. The Delegates Dining Room is a commercial space managed by Aramark and available for bookings.”

Inner City Press covered the issue on October 1 and again on October 18, asking how the UN could retain no right to review to whom Aramark rents the UN's building, and what claims can be made.

Now on October 25, Inner City Press has been informed that the Taylor Swift event in the UN Delegates' Dining Room has been canceled. Several DDR sources told Inner City Press that it was canceled since you wrote about it, Aramark is angry at all the money it is losing.

More than one UN official has approached Inner City Press saying congratulations for questioning the use of UN space and name for profit.

  But more formally the UN has maintained that it has no role in Aramark's renting out of the space. And another UN source says that VH-1 “didn't like how the UN Delegates' Dining Room looked” and canceled, that it has nothing to do with the UN having scruples. In fact, some reports have Taylor Swift still launching the album "on the steps of the UN" (unclear which steps). We'll see - watch this site.

Update - hours after deadline, and two hours after the event was supposed to begin, this was received:

Subject: Your question on Taylor Swift
From: UN Spokesperson Do Not Reply
To: Matthew.Lee [at]
Date: Mon, Oct 25, 2010 at 9:08 PM

We can confirm that Taylor Swift had at one point reserved the Delegates Dining Room for a record launch event, but that she later cancelled that booking and decided to use a venue outside the UN for that launch. For further details, please contact Aramark.

* * *

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.

 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

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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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