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Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


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UN Correspondents Assoc Gets UN Spox To Prohibit Coverage of Their Meeting

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 29 -- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon can be sold, it has been made clear here in New York and, at least as to February 5, in the UK. But they charge less over there.

  On Wall Street in December 2015, the UN Correspondents Association (UNCA) sold seats with Ban Ki-moon for $6,000 ($12,000 for a full table). Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric how this could be and was told, As long as it's transparent.

  On January 29, UNCA leadership including Giampaoli Pioli, two scribes for the US Broadcasting Board of Governors, one from Reuters and others demanded that Inner City Press not cover a meeting in the UN Press Briefing Room.

  Suspending their meeting in which they discussed among other tawdry topics selling UN space to those who pay them money, UNCA called in UN Spokesman Dujarric and his deputy and then UN Security, who are the request of Dujarric asked Inner City Press to leave.

  There were ironies aplenty. Not only about a group of "correspondents" trying to close and make secret their meeting in the UN Press Briefing Room, but also that it was Dujarric who told Inner City Press that the UN Press Briefing Room would not again be "lent out," after Inner City Press challenged the lending out to French President Francois Hollande.

   Dujarric, deploying the F-bomb, told Inner City Press, Yes, I am ordering you out, you can put it in your story. He tried to turn Inner City Press' camera phone off.

 His deputy, pointing at Inner City Press, told some of the scribes, "He lies a lot" -- after providing patently false answers about UN peacekeeping and other topics.

  The Voice of America correspondent Margaret Besheer, last seen claiming there were Liberians in Burundi, to which in an untransparent process she (and Reuters and AFP) accompanied the recent Security Council trip, made comments which most contexts are deemed antithetical to free press. She's done it before (see this letter to Dujarric); she said "go on your meds."

  Pioli, landland to Sri Lanka's ambassador who then gave him an UNCA / "UN" screening to that country's war crimes denial film, insisted that to stand up for the right to cover meetings in the UN Press Briefing Room one must be crazy. He never asks questions: he's a landlord. See here.

 Here's more to be said, but for now, here is the video.

  Ban's interaction with this UN Corruption Association are NOT transparent. The new Free UN Coalition to Access, which on January 27 thanked the New York State Comptroller and others at a 1:15 pm press conference with no one in UNCA's "holy seat," has repeatedly critiqued this lack of transparency, as journalists should. 

  Amid all this, this is the extent of UNCA's "annual" meeting, provided by several disgusted UNCA members, with annotation in italics:

1) Update on space and access, including journalists on the waiting list

Annotation: Ban's UN allows UNCA to broker space in the UN in exchange for money to UNCA: UN Corruption Association

2) Update on security issues for access during UNGA 2016 and Time Warner Cable installations

3) UNCA policy and awareness on sexual harassment --

Annotations: This from scribes who have asked and written nothing about the head of UN Peacekeeping linking rapes to R&R...

4) UNCA activities, press conferences and events for 2016

Annotation: top heavy with Italian authors and those hiding from real questions in the UN briefing room (see below)

5) Update on 2016 UNCA Directory

6) UNCA and UNCA Awards financials for 2015 and 2016 budget
  This, we gotta see - where did Ng Lap Seng's $50,000 go?

7) Update on UNCA Awards 2016 [For sale] 8) Other matters

  Amazingly, while this UN Corruption Association routinely tries to lure briefers away from the UN Press Briefing Room, now the UN gives it that room for this meeting: UN Censorship Alliance. We'll have more on this.

  On January 20, Inner City Press received a solicitation:
"UNA-UK is delighted to invite you to an event with H.E. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, on the morning of 5 February 2016... We are giving UNA-UK members and supporters the opportunity to book their place before tickets go on general sale and also recognising your ongoing support by offering a discounted rate (tickets will be £10 reduced from £15).
Click here to book your place - use the code [removed upon UNA-UK request] to claim your discount."

  So you can only hear Ban Ki-moon on London for 15 pounds - or 10 pounds if you join the organization. In New York, UNCA charges money (and only distributes information the UN gives it to those who pay its dues) - and still charges to sit with Ban.

 With the UN embroiled in scandals including the indictments of the former President of the General Assembly John Ashe and Macau businessman Ng Lap Seng and the founder of South South News, on December 14 the UN Correspondents Association sold seats with Ban Ki-moon for $6000.  Periscope I here;  Periscope II here.

UN corruption, never reformed, rises from the Ashes, courtesy of UNCA, now the UN Corruption Association.

  And yet, from inside Cipriani Wall Street, one of the musicians paid to play has an open mind, and when shown reporting on UN corruption asks, Should I make a scene? Tweet here.

 Just ask, who here paid $6000 as solicited by UNCA to sit with Ban Ki-moon. And why pay it? With Ng Lap Seng, it's clear.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Ban supports journalists. But the UNCA he's supporting tries to get them out of the UN. RSF did good work of late. But willful blindness does not help journalists.

The new EU representative naively said, First UNCA; the Turkish mission tweeted a photo of Ban (after its Perm Rep hob-nobbed with him in front of Monaco's painting, ignoring the invasion of Iraq, whose Ambassador arrived in tux to the Corruption Ball, we excuse him.)

 Since UNCA previously at such an event at Cipriani sold photo ops with Ban Ki-moon to now-indicted Ng Lap Seng, who will be this year's Ng Lap Seng?  Into Cipriani, this time the one on Wall Street, passed many tuxedoed individuals never seen at the UN. What were they buying? What safeguards had been added since Ng Lap Seng and John Ashe? None.

  New PGA Mogens Lykketoft arrived, as did Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson and David Nabarro, who stopped in the rain to speak with Inner City Press, as did another Under Secretary General. How can the UN and its group of scribes remain so UNreformed, despite indictments and public scandal?

The bureau chief of Voice of America, who previously tried to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN after it reported on UNCA corruption, the boss Giampaolo Pioli renting one of his apartments to Sri Lanka's ambassador then screening his war crimes denial film in the UN, this time seemed to give the finger, flip the bird to the press. Ah, journalism.

Is it journalism to solicit and take money from those you ostensibly cover? Where does it go? We'll have more on this.

  Earlier on December 14 UNCA lobbed three softball questions to Ban -- none on Burundi, for example -- from the former president of UNCA Pamela Falk, then the current vice president and finally the current questioner for UNCA. Inner City Press loudly asked a question about the killings in Burundi, which Ban declined to answer. Vine here.

  Inner City Press for the new Free UN Coalition for Access asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the propriety of UNCA selling seats with Ban. Dujarric said, "As long as it's transparent." Is that the standard?

One would expect the UN press corps, even the entity the UN itself chooses to set aside first questions for, to be pursuing rather than be involved in the scandals.

 One might also expect UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to be more cautious of colluding in events in which access to him  has been sold.

  But with the UN Correspondents Association, this year more than ever, that is not the case. The group or its leadership, headed by Italian paparazzi scribe Giampaolo Pioli who after trying to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN now covers actors like Morgan Freeman while others at his paper cover the UN, is selling seats with Ban Ki-moon for $6,000.

  In response to Press questions about this UNseemly sale of access, Ban's spokesman said "as long as it's transparent." Will that keep the indictments from expanding?

Inner City Press on December 11 spoke with indictee Frank Lorenzo, pictured here with Ban Ki-moon, as written up by "Italian News."

This year's sale of Ban, like to Ng Lap Seng in 2011, is an Italian job, run by pazarazzi / "correspondent" / landlord Giampaolo Pioli.

 How does this UNCA sleaze fest differ from the South South Awards, inextricably linked to the indictments of Ng Lap Seng, South South News' Frank Lorenzo and former President of the General Assembly John Ashe? Hardly at all. So what will happen? We'll have more on this.

Here is a photo of Ban Ki-moon at South South Awards with several indictees, here.

 For now we can report that at the December 11 closed door session on "Revitalization of the General Assembly," both the UN's Controller and Ban Ki-moon's new chief of staff Edmond Mulet made arguments for post-Ashe reforms that a number of member states found far too little. And Ban is slated to have seats next to him sold for $6000. We'll have more on this too.

  On December 10, days after Pioli used the large room the UN gives to UNCA, its UN Censorship Alliance, to campaign for a Security Council seat for his native Italy by giving out free meats, the view into the Club was blocked. So much for transparency.

  Here is a photo of the Clubhouse:

  The flier on the glassed-in bulletin board, under the "election" results, is of fine recently deceased journalist Haider Rizvi. Inner City Press' obituary hinted at it, but now we're compelled to say: UNCA, or its sidekick, tried to get him thrown out of the UN. There'll be a memorial for Haider, which can be participated in online,  on December 12 - in Lahore. Truth is what journalism is about. But here's Pioli on Morgan Freeman:

 UNCA's "elections" had no competition at all for the officer seats, now doled out to AFP, France 24, the US Broadcasting Board of Governors and ANSA from holdover president Giampaolo Pioli's native Italy.

  This UNCA "leadership" represents Italy and France, and old media -- tellingly, those new media which chose to run (Inner City Press quit UNCA after its censorship bid) for lesser UNCA seats were not selected. Also tellingly, the UN Spokesperson's office promoted the scam election, using its loudspeaker to try to get out the vote (for candidates who had no opponents.)

 The ringmaster, Giampaolo Pioli, came through the UN Security Council stakeout not to ask any question or even listen to answers on South Sudan or Syria; he glad handed his unopposed slate and then headed to the UN bar. He has arranged more Italian toasting, seeingly part of Italy's actually-opposed campaign for a Security Council seat (more on this in future dispatches).

  It's become the UN's Censorship Alliance - having tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN - and the UN Corruption Association, selling photo ops and seats with Ban Ki-moon.  Call them Ban Ki-moon shots.

  While calling for an audit of sale of UN access under John Ashe, should Ban openly allow access to him to be sold? He appears intent on doing so, or operating by inertia, on automatic pilot. Inner City Press now learns that Ban's twice delayed report on the cover up of peacekeepers' rapes in the Central African Republic will be pushed further back, after the sell-out, buried. We'll have more on this.

 UNCA's awards, such as they gave to South South News for money, include awards and payments to entities who've served on their own Board.

  In 2011 under then (and now) president Giampaolo Pioli, UNCA took money from the South South News of now-indicted Ng Lap Seng, then gave South South News an UNCA award and gave Ng Lap Seng a photo op with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

  Now in November 2015, Pioli has solicited $6000 from UN Ambassadors for seats at the “VIP” table at the UNCA “Ball” on Wall Street: to sit with Ban Ki-moon. Here is UNCA's pitch:

"Dear Ambassador,
The United Nations Correspondents Association is honored to invite you to participate and contribute to the 20th annual UNCA Awards event with guest of honor U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, recipient of the 2015 Global Advocate of the Year Award for climate change.  Exclusive raffle prizes include business class airline tickets around the world with hotel accommodations and a grand prize FIAT 500X car. As your esteemed presence will ensure the success of this event, we are pleased to send you the below opportunities to attend the gala dinner:
Mission Table Special Price / $6000 (half-table) 5 seats at VIP table at the gala event
Special Ambassador Contribution / $2,000 -1 VIP ticket for Ambassador with premium seating to dinner + 1 complimentary VIP ticket for spouse or guest -Special acknowledgement of the Ambassador and the Mission in the UNCA Awards Journal of the evening -Additional tickets for UN Diplomats of the Mission can be purchased at the special price of $750 each

Giampaolo Pioli, UNCA President
Please make all checks payable to 'UNCA Awards Committee'
Contributions to the UNCA Awards Committee are tax deductible.
The UNCA Awards Committee is a 501-c(3)"

 This is precisely the type of sale of access involved in the indictments of Ng, Sheri Yan and Frank Lorenzo.

  While others are announcing audits and freezing such contacts, UNCA under Pioli is bulling forward, charging ever more money, getting ever further from journalistic purposes.

  On November 20, Pioli's UNCA circulated a list of candidates with no competition for any of the six officer positions. It also pre-announced its awards, including to Reuters (on its Board) and others. We'll have more on this.

    For the three running unopposed for five president slots, two were already on the UNCA board during the relevant time period; the other is Pioli's former protege at Quotidiano Nazionale. It's an Italian thing.

   Running for Treasurer? It's Agence France Presse, whose previous correspondent tried to use a position on the UNCA board to censor Press coverage of Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row atop UN Peacekeeping.

  Reuters is in the mix, too, and another which joined Pioli in trying to censor coverage of Pioli unilaterally approving a Sri Lankan government war crimes denial film for a “UN” screening, after Pioli rented one of his apartments to Palitha Kohona, Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the UN. This is UN. But amid the new scandals at the UN, this is something new: watch this site.

Footnote: Inner City Press after Pioli's and others censorship bid, and attempt to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN (uncovered along with documents still to be published by a Freedom of Information Act request, here, and questioned by the New York Civil Liberties Union), quit the UNCA board and co-founded, with another who'd quit UNCA as corrupt, the Free UN Coalition for Access.

 FUNCA does not seek any automatic first questions, but opposes the UN setting aside first questions for an entity which, as now shown, is enmeshed in the very UN scandals that must be asked about. Watch this site.


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