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History Spin As Complaints to UN Blocked, Q&A Withheld, Censors Sell Books?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 19 -- They say journalism is the first draft of history; one assumes that journalists would fight to have more rather than less information public, for history to be accurate. But not in today's UN.

The board of the UN's propped up United Nations Correspondents Association this month conducted a Q&A with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon which has yet to be disclosed.

 The UN bureau chief of permanent member Reuters lobbied Google to ban from its search a leaked copy of his own anti-Press complaint to the UN, described as "for the record," mis-using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. "For the record" - and yet disappeared from Google's search? What would a historian say about that?

  Now it emerges that UNCA has a third generation historian as a freelance member, and according to UNCA President Pamela Falk of CBS he'll promote and offer for sale a book of family letters after a 5 pm "cocktail reception" while, one story down, a Security Council debate with 67 speakers including Ukraine and Sri Lanka goes on about, what else, the rule of law. To this has the UN and its UN Censorship Association sunk.

The UN gives UNCA a big room, and a bigger auditorium when it wants to screen propaganda films such as that of Sri Lanka denying the detailed accusations of war crimes made in a documentary which was itself never shown in UN headquarters. This was and is public record, like the Reuters bureau chief's "for the record" anti-Press complaint to the UN before he got it banned from Google's search.

  This UNCA clubhouse, which in July hosted a faux "UN briefing" by Syria rebel leader Ahmad al Jarba, functions as a sort of backdoor into the UN. The historian, Stephen Schlesinger, on his web site describes the February 19 event only as "at the main UN Secretariat Building" -- as blurry as Jarba left it. Perhaps Schlesinger didn't know -- a historian in the Censors' Club? Only at the UN. Watch this site.

Footnote: The Schlesinger book signing is for a UN staff club -- not only has the UN Secretariat refused to recognize any leadership of the Staff Union, they have also banned staff clubs from using the cafeteria as was previously the practice. Now any such use requires paying exorbitant Security and Aramark charges, as for example the Indian "Spice Club" has noted to Inner City Press.

  And so such events are driven into the Censors' Club, to prop them up so they can, when desired by those in UN power, perform their role. The solution is not to allow clubs to sell books in the Censors' Club - it is to re-open the cafeteria to the clubs, and to re-recognize the Staff Union. But that's not the trend in today's UNaccountable UN.

  Schlesinger has said, "the UN is amazingly resilient" - if so, it's time for it to start reforming, improving, and opening up. Watch this site.


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