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At UN, Spinning Rape, Cmr & Consultants, Smale Town Hall Panned, Reverse, Recuse or Resign

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 12 – UN departments hold periodic “Town Hall” meetings with staff and some are worse that others. Several attendees of the UN Department of Public Information town hall meeting on October 3 chaired by Alison Smale after a month atop DPI have marveled to Inner City Press at what was said by Smale. That staff complain to Inner City Press that Smale and Guterres may bring in outside consultants is understandable; perhaps these overpriced consultants will highlight waste within DPI. But contempt for Africa, and false promises of openness, were the themes of the complaints. Smale began by invoking the Prague spring, and described CNN as a high level of media to which the UN should aspire. She mispronounced the capital city of the Central African Republic, while saying that presenting Guterres' upcoming trip there as entirely positive will be her litmus test for the Department's performance. So, a staffer asked rhetorically, we have to lie that the UN is serving Central Africans well or be reviewed by some European consultants. Outside the UN, from Cameroon many have noted Smale's focus on Germany and Catalonia, more on this to follow. Smale invoked not SWAT but “SWOT,” insisting that the UN should push itself forward for credit for example at the recent Global Citizen concert in Central Park. She alluded to a move toward “flexible space” on the 10th floor of the UN, DPI's offices, where she is expected to keep her private office (like the no-show Egyptian state media to which DPI is trying to award Inner City Press' long time shared work space on the third floor). She repeatedly harped on DPI staffers having different business or “visitors” cards, and brought up her history at UPI (!) for street cred, saying that radio spots focus the mind, pre-podcasts. She claimed “my door is open,” then modified it to an “email door” -- after having refused to respond to a single of Inner City Press' detailed e-mail petitions for more than a month. She was serviced, the staff complain, during the meeting by Darrin Farrant, who used to carry Cristina Gallach's purse; a staffer wondered if the silent Maher Nasser, three time loser for the job, was in fact moderating the failed Town Hall. Overall, it is a conflict of interest for a person now openly declared to be intent on false propaganda in an African capital she can't even pronounce to continue to restrict independent Press. Reverse, recuse or resign. We'll have more on this.


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