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At UN, Hollande Micro-Manages Room But Not Time, Blather on Mali

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 25 -- Giving a speech at the UN General Assembly may give one 15 minutes of fame, as Andy Warhol promised. But one doesn't know when they will be.

  This French president Francois Hollande learned or should have learned on Tuesday. He scheduled his press conference for 12:30 pm, then moved it back to 1:30, then finally after 2 pm as speakers before him went overtime.

  During this time, the French Mission to the UN had the Dag Hammarskkjold Auditorium cleared out, such that a crowd of journalists built up in the hall in front of the Capital Master Plan office.

  Not so the room could be sniffed by dogs for bombs, Inner City Press was told, but to try to ensure that French diplomats and traveling media got places in the front row, which were marked "Reserved." The back row, too, was marked "Reserved," and the microphone to ask questions was closely controlled.

  He was not asked, for example, about France's continuing colonialism in Africa, for example twice now being the one to announce the wishes of the post-coup government in Mali, all the while offering "logistical" help for retaking northern Mali. Click here for the Inner City Press story written before Hollande's speech and press conference, but not able to be updated with any answer.

  Another of France's pet projects is "innovative financing." For this, they have sent to the UN their ex minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, who has run the "MassiveGood" project into the ground, with a $500,000 film by Spike Lee featuring among others Bill Clinton.

  Hollande was asked what he thought of Barack Obama not even attending the Secretary General's luncheon, at which US Presidents traditionally give the toast. He excused Obama, smiling that he is busy. He added that he'll see Obama after November, one imagines.

  That was in French; when asked a rare permitted question in English, Hollande grabbed a special ear piece, smaller than given to the journalists.

 As run, Hollande was largely asked softball questions, from beginning to end. Ultimately, after Hollande had made much of his commitment to a new environmental agency for the UN, he cut 20 minutes into the time of UNFCCC climate change chief Figueres.

  Then Hollande and his large entourage -- or "retinue" as the translator called it -- headed out. It includes former French Mission political coordinator Emmanuel Bonne. They'll be in New York until Thursday. Watch this site.

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