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Sept 24, 2013

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At UN, Obama Trolls China, Slams "Gun-Wielding Proxies," What of Syria?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 24 -- Amid US President Barack Obama's long speech to the General Assembly were criticism of bullies and of “gun-wielding proxies.”

  To some at the UN this was ironic, just after the US Congress approved Obama's proposal to arm and train rebels in Syria. Others pointed at US strong-arming small states to get their votes in international forums. “But they were good lines,” one UN habitue said.

   That spying was "no big deal" struck others. What a difference a year makes.

  Obama trolled China without naming it: “America is and will continue to be a Pacific power, promoting peace, stability, and the free flow of commerce among nations. But we will insist that all nations abide by the rules of the road, and resolve their territorial disputes peacefully, consistent with international law. That’s how the Asia-Pacific has grown. And that’s the only way to protect this progress going forward."

  What about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would among other things globalize a form of censorship under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act?

  In April in a Tokyo press conference with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, US President Barack Obama beat the drum for the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership, with no acknowledgement of flaws such as the globalization of censorship under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, example here.

 Of this abuse of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry told Inner City Press about this case:

"Unfortunately, it is all too easy for a copyright holder (assuming that the person that sent this notice actually held copyright in the email) to abuse the DMCA to take down content and stifle legitimate speech. As countries outside the US consider adopting DMCA-like procedures, they must make sure they include strong protections for free speech, such as significant penalties for takedown abuse."

  That example, ironically, is by Reuters - a news wire one might think would oppose censorship. Obama on April 24 said that when new sanctions on Russia are announced, "AP is going to be the first to know."

 On September 24, there was no call by Obama for reform of the UN itself.  When UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon minutes before (with only Brazil in between) made his General Assembly speech, the elephant in the room was the airstrikes on Syria that began two days before. Should UN Security Council approval have been sought?

  As he has increasingly done, Ban called for “decisive action” -- that is, airstrikes. While Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric has repeatedly told Inner City Press that Ban does not favor more arms flowing into Syria, he has not directly criticized the US move to arm and train Syrian rebels.

  In terms of UN Peacekeeping, Ban in his speech said he is setting up a review. Inner City Press has heard from source that Louise Arbour is slated to head it -- with many grumbling about it, including previous colleagues at the International Crisis Group. Is she the right one to review the failures of UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous?

  Most recently those failures include ordering peacekeepers to surrender to the Al Nusra Front in the Golan Heights -- so more for “decisive action” -- and not implementing Ban's supposed Human Rights Due Diligence Policy, by including the DR Congo Army, a UN listed child soldier recruiter, in the mission in Central African Republic, after never suspending UN support for DRC Army units which committed 130 rapes in Minova in November 2012.

  Ladsous refuses Press questions on all of this, video compilation here, UK coverage here. What would Arbour - or another - do about that?

  Ban touted his own “Rights Up Front” plan, without mention it was meant to make up for his failures on Sri Lanka in 2009 and since.

  Ban cited his Climate Summit, at which coal mining funders Bank of America and Barclays were celebrated. While corporations use his UN for blue-washing, yesterday the French delegation tried to privatize the UN's Press Briefing Room, ordering all non-French journalists to leave. Inner City Press for the new Free UN Coalition for Access refused this privatization, video here, and will continue to work to make the UN live up to the principles it was supposedly founded for. Watch this site.


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