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The Case of Sri Lanka, Drone Feeds & UN Dag Hamm Playhouse

By Matthew Russell Lee (Inner City Press Culture; Literary Supplement)

FUNCA Intro: In an opening in the regime of copyright at the end of 2013, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson were declared public domain by Chief Judge Rubén Castillo of the United States District Court of the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. Decision here; news here. As relates to the United Nations, then, the fast-written story below, while the door is open. Meanwhile others try to abuse copyright, for example the specious Digital Millennium Copyright Act filing by Reuters to block from Google search a complaint its bureau chief filed with the UN seeking to get Inner City Press thrown out. That will be opposed, and free press and speech promoted, now in 2014. By the Free UN Coalition for Access, @FUNCA_info

I & II published Dec 30, 2013; III & IV here, V & VI here Jan 2, 2014

Continued: Sherlock Homes at the UN: The Case of Sri Lanka: Drone Feeds & the Dag Hamm Playhouse

By Matthew Russell Lee, Contra Copyright  I & II, III & IV, V & VI


  Sherlock kept his car, an old brown Saab, in what was left of the UN garage. As the General Assembly above was being fixed, they closed down different sections of the garage, putting up notices that those with parking passes had to move their cars. But given diplomat impunity and sudden recalls home, some didn't move them at all.

  "Look at this," Sherlock said, pointing at an Audi covered with dust, its tires nearly flat. "The UN keeps putting notices under the windshield wipers until they don't fit any more, threatening to do something if the car's not moved. But they do nothing."

  I could see the contours of the UN bringing cholera to Haiti in it. I saw that everywhere. "Why don't they just tow it?" I asked Sherlock.

  "They're not quite sure whose it is. Don't want to step on the wrong toes. Even if the country seems less important, the car could belong to the son or daughter of some big power. So they just leave it."

  Sherlock pulled out his smart phone and took a picture, down by the blue diplomatic license plate. "These are going to pay off some day, some day soon," he said more softly. "I'm keeping a library."

  We found Sherlock's Saab -- not without some dust on the hood, I noticed -- and Sherlock revved the engine up. We drove out past the mail loading docks. "They brought in cocaine through here," Sherlock said, "in a package with no address on it. The UN claimed it was just a coincidence the package ended up here." He paused. "Right."

  On our way uptown Sherlock filled me in, like a ravioli, on this landlord cum correspondent. His name was Guiseppe Pisoli and his money and realty came from his pasta-heiress wife, Clarisa Borgatti. For years he had pranced around the UN, finally using his -- or her -- money to campaign to head the Repeaters Club that Sherlock had spat at on the UN's press floor.

  "But there's more," Sherlock said. "Between the two of them, they own ten apartments in Manhattan, and a big house out in the Hamptons. They rent them out to diplomats, like the one from Sri Lanka."

  "It's a conflict of interest, right," I asked him, "for a supposed journalist to take money from a person they're covering?"

  "No sh*t," Sherlock said. "And Pisoli gives money, too. Not only to get elected to the tin horn UN Censorship Alliance" -- that's what the blogger had dubbed it -- "but also to people he's supposed to cover for the Italian newspaper he lists on his business card. Maybe he pays for that, too, for the privilege."

  "Only at the UN," I said. There were a lot of hangers-on. But what was the angle here?

Sherlock went on: "So when Sri Lanka wanted to screen a movie denying war crimes, and have it be inside the UN, they worked through Pisoli. He did it, after taking the money as rent."

  "Open and shut," I said, knowing in the UN that was probably not true. Not to further beat down a dead Haitian horse, but look at how the UN got away with bringing cholera.

  "Pisoli then used the presidency of the Censorship Alliance, which he had bought, in order to try to shut down any criticism of him and the genocide defense he'd screened in Pisoli's playhouse."

  "In this apartment we're going to, you mean?"

  "No -- in the Dag Hammarskjold Library auditorium," Sherlock said. Full circle.


  Sherlock turned left over to Fifth Avenue, parked in a bus stop next to Central Park. "If you're going to work with me on this, maybe it's time to tell you what I'm looking for on Pambiar," he said.

  "A confession?"

  Sherlock laughed. "That only happens in Perry Mason," he said. "No, there are still some open questions about his role in the White Flag killings. Just before they happened, Mahinda Rajapaksa was in Amman, Jordan. It's there that he declared victory, that the war was over. And Pambiar was there in Amman. What was he doing there?"

  "Probably some kind of conference," I ventured.

  "But in what capacity was he there? Planning with Mahinda?" Sherlock paused, then went on. "Another is what information Pambiar was getting. There's references to video streams from UAVs, that is, drones, over the so called No Fire Zone. These were beamed to military commanders like Shavendra Silva. But Pambiar saw them too. So was he waiting until they were no one left alive?"

  "That'd be a war crime," I said. You know, international law expert that I am.

  "Yep," Sherlock said. "It was one thing for the UN to have Kurt Waldheim, after his Nazi youth. But to commit war crimes WHILE a UN official? That's a new low."

  We sat there.

  "And another thing," Sherlock continued. "Pambiar's use of drone footage, even if he wasn't the one pulling the trigger, is what makes Ladsous' pressing to deploy drones in Eastern Congo and wherever else so problematic. That and Ladsous' history with Rwanda."

  "So who'd get the information?"

  "Maybe just France," Sherlock said. "They're running most of the military operations in Africa anyway. Look at it - Mali, Central African Republic, after Cote d'Ivoire. So Ladsous could justify giving it to them. And maybe the other P5s, just to keep them quiet."

  "But aren't all member states paying for the drones?"

  Sherlock nodded. "And even if some pay less than others, the UN name for some reason is viewed as giving the drones legitimacy. The G-193 and all that." He started the engine. "Let's go to Pisoli's," he said.

To be continued...


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