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As Norway on Syria Defends UN, Might Gentrify in Brooklyn, Haiti on Agenda?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 12 -- Twelve days before the UN's annual General Debate kicks off, Norway invited the press to schmooze high above Second Avenue amid talk of Syria and chemical weapons and, strangely, a Norwegian sponsored artists studio in Brooklyn. Inner City Press tweeted photo here.

  The hostess, Consul General Elin Bergithe Rognlie, is new to New York having come in from Kenya. But Norway's Ambassador Geir O. Pedersen, also present, has also work for the UN.

  Even so, tellingly, he acknowledge he needs to learn more about how the UN responded to legal claim for bringing cholera to Haiti.

  How can the UN's forthcoming report on chemical weapons in Syria be taken at face value, when the UN was willing to dissemble about its responsibility in Haiti, and not even apologize?

  It was said, repeatedly on Thursday, that the head of the UN team, the Swedish Ake Sellstrom, is a credible scientist. But if his report is misused, as it seems French foreign minister Laurent Fabius tried on Thursday, will Sellstrom speak up?

  Still, hearteningly, one left the Norway soire with this message, and not only the reference to uber Norwegians Jan Egeland and Robert Mood: the country believes force can only be used for self-defense, or with the Security Council.

  On a much smaller or more local level, Norway has through an artist and a curator to Brooklyn, to Bushwick to be exact. Inner City Press asked - isn't this gentrification? This gave raise in some to laughter, in others to self-reflection.

  The context is a change of government, in which the "Progressives" (described as right wingers) have won seats. Most of the Norwegian diplomats said there had been no change yet, but journalists, more independent, tell a different story.

  How will Norway's new leaders view taxpayers' money spent gentrifying another country, the People's Republic of Brooklyn?

  Similarly, when the paper of record the New York Times interviewed Swedish Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson about the General Assembly, the talk over sweatbreads was mostly parking (as well as Syria), with the ostensibly NY-based Times not even ASKING Eliasson about the UN's shameful Haiti dodge. This is big media, cut off from its roots.

  In the midst of the reception, Inner City Press used a side room with the consent of Consul Rognlie to appear on the yes, progressive, radio show Make it Plain on SiriusXM Satellite Radio with Ron Daniels filling in for Mark Thompson. The talk was anti-war, but not pro Obama. Progressive means different things in different countries.

  At the General Debate in twelve days, Norway's old / outgoing ministers will be here. Their mandate ends in October; they might stay on as caretakers but only that. A somewhat similar change has taken place in Australian, which hold the Security Council presidency this month. This is the UN. Watch this site.


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