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As US Gets Down With UN, of Opera and Rohingya, Fact Check by the Press

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 25 -- In the weeks before the US elections, the US Mission to the UN in fine multilateral style held separate 22nd floor receptions for the UN General Assembly's Second, Third and Fifth Committees, this last on Thursday night.

  After photos with and a short speech by US Ambassador for Management and Reform Joe Torsella -- called by some Fifth (Budget) Committee denizens "Ambassador Tweetela" for his social media penchants -- there was opera, sung from the top of the stairs over the Mission's river-view ballroom.

  Earlier in the week, Torsella highlighted to the Press the US Mission's reminder to the Secretariat, of promises Ban Ki-moon made in December. Days later, Torsella offered a Twitter hat-tip to the Heritage Foundation for a budgetary catch.

   Thursday night Torsella told Inner City Press that he hadn't had full control this year unlike last of the food or caterer, but of the opera he joked about "Brindisi" and "I got a whole lot of nothing."

  The food included sushi, and Under Secretary General for Management Yukio Takasu was there, as well as Torsella's Japanese counterpart Jun Yamazaki, previously the UN's Controller.

  Also in attendance was UN Assistant Secretary General Franz Baumann. The US Mission likes his for cost cutting; some UN staff, particularly but not only in Publishing, are less impressed.

  Recently after Inner City Press was invited to the UN's Third sub-basement to disprove Baumann's statement that all the printing equipment worked, the UN started some form of investigation of how this fact-check happened. On this, the US should be on the side of transparency and audit, if only by the media.

  Though the Fifth Committee is largely not their purview, at least under the December crunch, many Permanent Representatives were there, ranging from Jamaica and Suriname through Algeria, Montenegro and new Security Council members Luxembourg and Rwanda.

At the Second Committee reception, the US' Elizabeth Cousens' speech joked about the many acronym's the committee and wider UN use. Suriname chairs the Third (Human Rights) Committee, which heard Friday from the Special Rapporteurs on, among others, Religious Freedom and Myanmar.

  In Washington, Victoria Nuland expressed US concern about the plight of the Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar's North Rakhine State. Would it have an impact? Watch this site.

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