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"UN Briefing" On Wrestling Has Nothing to Do With UN, No Questions 12-2

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 13 -- It's said that the UN has been rehabilitated. But in some ways it just keeps getting worse.

  Take two small examples: the turn over of the building and the UN name to the contractor Aramark, which also runs food service in prisons, see here, and a UN Correspondents Association Executive Committee turned in on itself, not seeking more access but rather to exclude others.

  These two trends come together in an event, about wrestling no less, in the UN's Delegates' Dining Room May 14 from noon to 2 pm. The event is being marketed as a Briefing... at the United Nations.

  But its connection to the UN is that the sponsors are paying Aramark, which controls the UN food service contract, to use the space. Anyone can use it, including private weddings. The UN allows this, and gets worse and worse service from Aramark in return.

  In fact, Aramark workers complain to Inner City Press they have been told that despite the rehabilitation of the fourth floor Delegates' Dining Room, it will not be re-opened for lunch, but only for use for events Aramark charges for. As workers who've been partially laid off during the $2 billion Capital Master Plan, they are outraged.

  But what is the UN connection of tomorrow's wrestling event? None other than the UN Correspondents Association, a sort of Aramark of the journalism industry.

  UNCA president Pamela Falk of CBS wrote, "The sponsors have held 50 of their 150 seats for UNCA members plus a guest."

   UNCA, whose participation garnered it these 50 free lunch tickets for its due paying members and allows the sponsor to put on their flier "International Media," now says "Please note: All Q&A will be at the press conference at 10:30am ONLY."

  But the flier they sent out says "Luncheon and Briefing (on keeping wrestling in the Olympics), 12-2 pm." Now, for or after free lunch, UNCA emphasizes: no questions from 12 to 2. Questions and answers, you see, is not their focus, just as actually providing food and drink service to people in the UN is not Aramark's focus.

Footnote: On that, it's said the already rehabilitated Delegates' Lounge will not re-open for service this month, and in the future alcohol will be downplayed. Is it Joe Torsella, the US Ambassador who said diplomats drink too much, or Ban Ki-moon? We'll have more on all this.

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