Wednesday, December 28, 2016

ICP Asked UN of Gambia, Ban's S Korea Talks, Somaliland, Wonder Woman, Gallach Censors

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 22  -- When the UN held its noon briefing on December 22, only one media asked questions, six in total: Inner City Press. That this is the one media that outgoing Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and hold-overs Stephane Dujarric and Cristina Gallach threw out of the briefing room, office and UN and still confine to minders for ten months and counting is telling.

   From the December 22 UN transcript, YouTube video here: 

Inner City Press: First, I wanted to ask you about this reference to the Gambian ambassador as… as… as outgoing.  Is his… is it because he's being recalled?  In what context?  And is it expected that… that, if Yahya Jammeh were to send a new Permanent Representative, would the Secretariat… it seems like from your statements you would take the position that he should not be a new Sec… a new Jammeh-representing Permanent Representative.

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, I think I've said what I've said in terms of the need to respect the political transition and ensure a peaceful and orderly inauguration of the President-elect.  Regarding what… the reasons for his status, of course, that's a question to ask the Government of the Gambia.

Inner City Press: Right, but he represented himself to… to… in the meeting as outgoing.

Deputy Spokesman:  Yes.

Inner City Press:  I wanted to ask you, the South Korean press has quoted the Secretary-General, not only things said in this room, but they say that later on that day, 20 December, he spoke at the South Korean General Consulate, which I didn't see on his schedule, and reiterated a… pretty clearly this idea of he would willing to put his body in the flames to serve his country, etc.  So I wanted to know, number one, why wasn't this on his schedule?  I mean, for example, like, are there… if… has he gone to other general consulates of other countries in the last week, just factually?  What was the purpose of that visit?

Deputy Spokesman:  Whatever we get from the scheduling office, we place on the schedule.  That one was not there.  I'm not aware of the details behind that.  Obviously, his movements are free.  You know, he has an official schedule that is developed every day.  And that is what we are able to put out.
Inner City Press:  But, obviously, it's been said from this podium and I think he himself has said it that, until 31 December, he's entirely the UN Secretary-General.  There's no special relationship with South Korea or anything.  And so I'm asking you… maybe you can ask his, I guess, his Executive Office, has he visited the General Consulate of any other country in the last week, two weeks, three weeks?

Deputy Spokesman:  He sometimes has visited other general consulates.  Sometimes he has evening meetings.  I believe this last several weeks, he's made several such visits because he is, of course, paying farewell visits.  So there have been dinners and receptions and things like that that he's been attending.

Inner City Press: Right.  But was this the mission? Given the things said from here, it seemed noteworthy.

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, the things that I have for comment on are things that are on the official schedule.  There are other visits he's been making, including, like I said, farewell visits to different places.

Inner City Press:  Sure.  Go ahead?  All right.  I'll try to do these as fast as I can.  Yesterday, during the General Assembly meeting on Syria on investigative mechanism, several Member States noted that the sound went out, not just… during at least 3… 3-and-a-half speakers in a row, and I wanted to know, was DPI [Department of Public Information]… are you aware of it?  I know it's come up before, and I'm not bringing it up in any kind of conspiratorial way except to say this was obviously a pretty important meeting.  What's… are any steps being done so that countries' speeches in meetings such as that aren't put out to the world live?

Deputy Spokesman:  Yeah, we do have problems like this from time to time.  I'm not aware of this latest one.  But we've had some technical glitches.  We are trying to get the system straightened out so that we don't have glitches on our broadcasts.  It happens on other lesser noticed ones, as well.  It's just that we get a lot more of a problem once it's a widely watched one.  But regardless of whether they're popular or less watched ones, we're trying to get all the glitches fixed.

Inner City Press:  Okay.  And I wanted to… you may have seen that in… in… that AMISOM [African Union Mission in Somalia] is accused of killing 11 civilians, and I know that it's an African Union mission, but I also know the UN is providing logistical support to it and also has an office, you know, in the country.  Is it… what's its role in looking into this most recent claim of the killing of civilians?

Deputy Spokesman:  Obviously, we hope that the African Union, which is the force… the body that controls the African Union Mission in Somalia, will look into any such allegations and investigate them.

Inner City Press: And there was some… this is next door or, you know, some say it's the same country.  Some say it's not.  But in the Somalia elections, ReliefWeb has reported and I believe the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) has taken note of votes collected in Somaliland for the Somali election.  And there are many people in Somaliland that think hat very few people participated and that it's not… it's not an uncontested thing to… to… to count them.  What is the UN's position, I guess, on the… the… the votes being collected and representative… represented as being taken from Somaliland to the Federal transitional or maybe no longer transitional Government of Somalia?  They're pretty mad basically at the SRSG.  So I just wanted to know, is he… is this a thought-out position or does he just…

Deputy Spokesman:  The Special Representative of the Secretary-General does think out his positions when he deals with all of the complex issues involving the system of government in Somalia.

Inner City Press:  I guess when I say… because… and previously, a move to award the airspace of Somaliland to… to Somalia by the UN resulted in no delivery of humanitarian aid for a period of time.  So it's not… I'm not saying that wasn't thought out, but I'm saying, like, has he thought through… the position is basically that the aspirations of Somaliland and the million-signature petition that was put out is… is of not… of no concern to the UN?  I just want to get a quote from you if you can.

Deputy Spokesman:  I don't think that's a fair way to characterize the Special Representative's position, but he is looking at the context of all of the issues surrounding Somalia and its existence.

Inner City Press: I want to ask one more, it seems lighter, but I want to sort of put it to bed.  I know that both you and Stéphane [Dujarric] have said that this Wonder Woman ambassadorship by DPI was always intended to end in December.  And the only reason I'm asking you is just that there's becoming a divergence in the public discourse about it and what's being said here in that Lynda Carter, Gal Gadot, the people that actually play Wonder Woman have both said they're outraged that the ambassadorship was taken.  So it seems to me that they didn't know that it was going to end in December.  So is there some… I understand… maybe it's an attempt to sort of be diplomatic about it, but was it actually explained to the people that were present in the meeting there?  Because they've both said that this was wrong and etc.

Deputy Spokesman:  I don't know whether DC Comics explained it with the actresses who have played the part.  But, certainly, the arrangement between the United Nations and DC Comics and the other entities involved in this has been very clear.

Inner City Press:  So there was no relationship between the staff petition saying that they were angry at this and the ending of it?
Deputy Spokesman:  No, no, we've had this guidance for weeks.  It hasn't changed.  Have a good afternoon.  And the last briefing of the year will happen tomorrow.

Inner City Press:  Will you be doing it?

Deputy Spokesman:  No.  It will be my comrade Stéphane Dujarric.

Outgoing UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon headlined a $1200 a ticket event on Wall Street on the evening of December 16. Video here.

Inner City Press went to cover the event, and while live-streaming Periscope video outside was physically attacked by thugs exiting the UN event. Video here. Video here.

ON December 16, first UN Correspondents Association president Giampaolo Pioli came out to shout, “You're crazy.” Then his colleague and UNCA second vice president Valeria Robecco of ANSA told Inner City Press to “f*cking go home, we are so tired of you.”

   Then yet another Italian with UN office space, Francesco Semprini, came into Inner City Press' face, and camera, to blather about how much he writes about Yemen and the Rohingya, telling Inner City Press to Google him. (More on this to come.).

An another tuxedo-ed man next to him, seemingly Giovanni Palacardo of Banca IMI Securities Corp, got involved. Then there was this man, here.

Inner City Press' Periscope-broadcasting phone, which had garnered over 10,000 viewers earlier in the day asking US Ambassador Samantha Power about South Sudan, was grabbed and thrown down the street with the intent to break it and stop the broadcast. This happened a second time. This is censorship.

And here is the UN Censorship Alliance, in which a largely -- now five out of six -- uncontested election for officers involved ANSA's Robecco as an officer and Pioli still running for an at large seat goes forward, days after outright physical censorship.

Gallach, meanwhile, was at a Japan's “plaster wall” and sake event, still no action on the smashing of a broadcasting camera, after she herself engaged in censorship. On December 20 her prime minister Rajoy is in the building - watch this site.

  This is the UN's Under Secretary General for Public Information Cristina Gallach, who did no due diligence as Ng Lap Seng bribed the UN, including under a previous Cipriani “UNCA Ball,” has watched the re-broadcast of the Periscope. Photo here.

Is it to find out which of her UN resident correspondents trying to physically censor the Press by breaking its phone? Or does she routinely monitor the social media of UN non-resident correspondents who have asked her about her links to the UN bribery scandal? We'll have more on this.

   Shortly before, Inner City Press spoke with Ban Ki-moon, now Antonio Guterres official Kyung-wha Kang. She said, of Inner City Press' eviction from the UN and nine months and counting of minders, “There must be a process.” But there is no process, no rule, no appeal right. And, it is now confirmed, there are thugs.

Call it, now, the Dark Side of the Moon (music).

   Outgoing Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson, who has received a petition on the matter, to his credit came over and greeted Inner City Press -- before the attack. Representatives of the US Mission to the UN, who did nothing about the earlier eviction despite a request by the Government Accountability Project, did not.

Not seen was UN Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach, who by her no due process eviction, audio here, and allowing UNCA chief Pioli to at the televised UN Security Council stakeout call Inner City Press a*hole, audio here, created this atmosphere.

   But where is the Committee to Protect Journalists, ostensibly now concerned about press freedom inside the terroritorial United States?

Where is Human Rights Watch, whose UN representative in fact tried to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN, here, then got Google to censor from Search his request, misusing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act?  The only solution is, at a minimum, to restore Inner City Press to where it was before the no due process eviction. Then to work from there. Watch this site.

Hours after Ban had answered a pre-selected questions about Aleppo, Syria by reading from notes, he attended an event where he'd previously been put together with Macau-based businessman Ng Lap Seng, now under house arrest for UN bribery involving Ban's Secretariat.

  But Ban has his eye on the Blue House, South Korea's presidential palace. In front of 55 Wall Street on Friday night, with its own velvet rope and carpet, was a red “Lamborghini Huracan, V-10 naturally aspirated 610 horsepower.” Photo here.

This glitzy display, bitterly dubbed the “Aleppo mobile,” was courtesy of the United Nations Correspondents Association. Inner City Press, which quit UNCA in 2012 and, after UNCA threatened to get it thrown out of the UN, actually was in 2016 by Ban and his head of communications Cristina Gallach, covered the event from the sidewalk outside. Periscope I here.

   Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson came over for a handshake; at least one Permanent Five member of the Security Council's Permanent Representative came to joke. But the travesty made at and of the UN by Ban Ki-moon and his UN Censorship Alliance is no joke. Periscope II here.

When Ban Ki-moon held his last staged press conference on December 16, he took only six questions, not only of them critical.

There was nothing on the UN under his leadership bringing cholera to Haiti and killing over 10,000 people, nor on his peacekeepers' rapes of children in the Central African Republic.

Ban read from notes in response to several, including the first set-up question about his upcoming run for the South Korean presidency.

   In Ban's opening remarks he mentioned South Sudan, but not the day's real news, that the UN Mission there gave weapons to warlord James Koang, who killed civilians. Unlike at Ban's “press” conference, Inner City Press was able to ask for example UK Ambassador Rycroft, and the New Zealand foreign minister, about South Sudan, video here.

   Inner City Press which on December 15 was the ONLY media to ask questions at the day's UN noon briefing, and which put its name first on the list to ask a question to Ban, was not called on by Ban's outgoing spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

   So at the end, while there was still time, Inner City Press asked quite audible about Myanmar, and Ban's brother Ki-ho doing mining there after being on a UN delegation. Vine here. Ban did not answer this - surreally, he came over to shake hands. Video here. 

Nor did Ban answer about the pending Ng Lap Seng UN bribery case, in which the Macau-based businessman bought a document from Ban's Secretariat and held events with no due diligence by Ban's head of Communications Cristina Gallach.

   Later on December 16 Ban was scheduled to appear on Wall Street, with the UN Correspondents Association charging $1,200 to hear him. It was UNCA that got the first question and used it to set him up for South Korea's presidency, or at least a short speech on the topic. This is how Ban's UN works - or doesn't.

Since October 14, Ban Ki-moon has refused to make public the speech he gave on October 14 before the Council of Korean Americans, which sought $100,000 sponsorships to hear Banspeak.

 Now on December 16 Ban Ki-moon is slated to appear at Cipriani Wall Street at an event for which $1,200 individual admittance tickets are being sold, even to journalists needing to cover Ban since he is, with whatever merits, running for President of South Korea (in the alternative the journalists would be required to join Ban's UN Censorship Alliance, like a forced state-controlled union).

From the pitch: “RAFFLE PRIZES include business class airline tickets around the world, luxury products (Dior, Burberry, MaxMara, Luisa Brini), dining for 6, weekend spa, big-screen high-def TV, and two grand prize weekends with a Lamborghini Huracan, V-10 naturally aspirated 610 horsepower.”

For this, UNCA board members are asking / telling people in front of the UN Security Council that they are expected to be there.

On December 15, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric if the UN Ethics office has reviewed and approved the charging of $1200 to hear Ban Ki-moon. Dujarric rather than answering that question said that Inner City Press had in the past attended the “UNCA dinner at the highest level,” and that it will go forward. UN Ethics? Video here, UN transcript here: 

Inner City Press: I have a couple more, but I want to make sure to ask this one before… I wanted to ask you, whether the Ethics Office has signed off on the Secretary-General appearing for talks for which $1,200 are charged.  And I’m asking… this is going to take place tomorrow, and I’m asking it not on my behalf, but I know journalists that want to or are required by their employers to cover it, and they were told they either have to pay that amount to cover it.  So I wanted to know… it seems like a strange practice.  I know he’s giving a free speech in Southern Illinois University next week.  But what are the ethics or… in terms of UN ethics, not moral ethics…?

Spokesman:  The UNCA [United Nations Correspondents Association] dinner is a longstanding tradition to which you participated at the highest levels on a number of occasions in the same format.  It’s a tradition and a tradition that will go on.  Thank you.

Dujarric then walked off the podium, preventing not only follow up but also any questions on such crises (and Ban failures) as Yemen and Myanmar, where Ban's friends and family are involved in mining.

   Inner City Press quit UNCA, but here is a photograph of Ban Ki-moon at the event with executives of South South News -- Francis Lorenzo and Vivian Wang who have pleaded guilty to UN bribery including of Ban's Secretariat, and indicted Ng Lap Seng, here.

  It was to see if UNCA would discuss the Ng Lap Seng case that Inner City Press sought to cover an event in the UN Press Briefing Room on January 29, 2016. Dujarric was summoned and told Inner City Press to leave so he could go see his “F-ing children.” Video here.

Inner City Press said he shouldn't give the UN Press Briefing Room to some but not all journalists but that it would leave if shown anything that the meeting was “Closed” or if asked by a UN Security officer. One officer came and said that spokesman wants you to go, and Inner City Press left.

  For that, three weeks later without a single opportunity to be heard Under Secretary General for DPI Cristina Gallach ordered Inner City Press out of the UN on two hours notice, accomplished by eight officers, audio here. Inner City Press' long time office was evicted in April and the space being given to an Egyptian state media whose correspondent Sanaa Youssef, UNCA President in 1984, rarely comes in and has not asked a single question in the last nine months.

  At the December 15 noon briefing, only Inner City Press asked Dujarric questions. But he is sure to disallow any questions by Inner City Press to Ban Ki-moon, whether on Burundi, Yemen or nepotism. This is censorship, and corruption.

What Ban gets, or got prior to the steep decline in his South Korea presidential changes, from letting the Council of Korean Americans raise money off him is clear.

But especially after a similar appearance at Cipriani 42nd Street gave now indicted Ng Lap Seng and members of his retinue who have since pleaded guilty to UN bribery visible access to Ban and his wife, what's in it for him? 

UN corruption: Here's  with indicted , & Francis Lorenzo & Vivi Wang who've pleaded guilty. 
Well, Ban has used the group hosting and selling him on December 16 as a mouthpiece for his presidential ambitions, and as a battering ram against those who dare question him.

  It was for seeking to cover a January 29, 2016 event by Ban's December 16 host, held in the UN Press Briefing Room lent to them without any written record by Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, that Inner City Press was physically thrown out of the UN on February 19, and had a decade's worth of investigative filed evicted out onto First Avenue on April 16.

Since then, Inner City Press has been confined to one of Ban Ki-moon's and his Communications chief Cristina Gallach's minders to cover any General Assembly, ECOSOC or other second floor meeting. So it's the UN Censorship Alliance.

   And as Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq chose to go public with on December 8, the Egptian state media to which Ban and Gallach are giving Inner City Press' longtime office, while rarely present at the UN in recent months and years, was a former president of the UN Correspondents Association. One hand washes the other.

Even a UN journalist who, like Inner City Press which quit UNCA after it screened a Sri Lankan government war crimes denial film after UNCA's outgoing president - who has chosen and endorsed his successor - is not a member of UNCA was going to be charged the full $1200 to cover Ban, until they joined UNCA. So Ban's UN coerces independent journalists to join the UN Censorship Alliance. By contrast, even CPJ allow the Press to cover the speeches at its Waldorf fundraising without paying for the privilege. A correspondents association which gets journalists evicted for trying to cover its meetings, and tries to charge other reporters money to cover its events, is not a group for free preEven a UN journalist who, like Inner City Press which quit UNCA after it screened a Sri Lankan government war crimes denial film after UNCA's outgoing president - who has chosen and endorsed his successor - is not a member of UNCA was going to be charged the full $1200 to cover Ban, unless they joined UNCA.

So Ban's UN coerces independent journalists to join the UN Censorship Alliance. By contrast, even CPJ allows the Press to cover the speeches at its Waldorf fundraising without paying for the privilege.

A correspondents association which gets journalists evicted for trying to cover its meetings, and tries to charge other reporters money to cover its events, is not a group for free press.

   Separately, this group calling itself the United Nations Correspondents Association will be giving its own members including unopposed president journalism awards on December 16, before an election in which there is no competition for any of the six official position. Ban Ki-moon stands for democracy and freedom of the press -- not. But that's another story.

On October 25, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: 

Inner City Press: Thanks for announcing the Secretary-General's speech in… at Columbia.  I want to ask again.  Rather than… I may have misread your [inaudible].  Last time I asked, where is Ban Ki-moon's speech to the Council of Korean-Americans, for which they raised $100,000, just to release it?  You seem… I somehow read into your face that, like, it might be coming.  Is there some reason that that speech is… is… of all the speeches that he gave in the last two weeks… withheld?

Spokesman:  He's given speeches to private events.  I really have nothing else to add on the issue.  Thank you.

   How many "private events"? For which groups? We'll have more on this.

On October 21, even as UN staff protested Ban's lack of judgment in naming a cartoon character, Wonder Woman, a UN ambassador, Ban made public to Reuters not this speech but his ambition to be president of South Korea. Reuters did not ask about the day's protest, much less the “private” speech.

Reuters “reported” that “Ban said it was the first time he had spoken publicly about his future beyond the United Nations.” So what was new, given that Ban held a 20 minute public “photo op” with South Korea legislators, with Korean media (and Inner City Press) present?

  At the October 24 noon briefing, Inner City Press put the question to Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric who was present at the 20 minute photo op, even told the Department of Public Information to break from its stated rules and allow Korean print-only reporters up to witness Ban's announcement.

  Dujarric repeatedly cut off the question, not allowing Inner City Press to a related follow up. Later he said it's not for Ban to comment on any changes to allow an additional presidential term -- precisely an issue at stake in Burundi.

   What will Ban's platform be? At the UN, he he give the top job in Kenya to his own son in law, without recusing himself. He has allowed his mentor Han Seung-soo to be a UN official while on the boards of directors of Doosan and of Standard Chartered bank, which has UN contracts. He has evicted the Press which has asked about his nepotism throughout his tenure. See here. So: corruption, nepotism and censorship? We'll have more on this.

On October 17, Inner City Press asked Ban's outgoing spokesman Stephane Dujarric why his office had not made available Ban's speech in Washington DC on October 14 to the Council of Korean-Americans but had widely emailed out Ban's speech the same day while getting another honorary degree in Maryland.

    Dujarric replied, with characteristic defensiveness, that Ban's Friday evening speech at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center in DC was private. Vine video here. On October 18 when Inner City Press followed up and asked how much was charged or sought to hear Ban, Dujarric said to ask the organizers.

  Well, the Council of Korean Americans began promoting Ban's attendance, as UN Secretary General, as early as August - and sought $100,000 “platinum” sponsorships. Here's a tweet from September.

Here is the $100,000 pitch.

  Is this ethical? Separately, did Ban get any UN Ethics Office opinion on this? Inner City Press asked these questions and more on October 20; Dujarric said to... ask the Ethics Office. Isn't he the UN spokesman?

He separately refused to say how much the outside counsel Ban's UN has hired in connection with the Ng Lap Seng UN bribery case (in which Ban's Secretariat changed a General Assembly document to insert the name of Ng Lap Seng's company) is paid, and from which budget line or slush fund. The lawyer's firm does not have an active contract in the UN Procurement database. 

Earlier in the day the UN's own Special Rapporteur David Kaye published his report, which included his and Rapporteur Michel Forst's letter asking Gallach why she evicted Inner City Press, and her belated response that Inner City Press has “trespassed” in the UN Press Briefing Room.
   But a UN Secretary General allowing his image and the UN flag to be used to raise $100,000 sponsorships - is it ethical? Inner City Press asked Dujarric, wouldn't it be fair at least to infer Ban supports the views of the group he let charge $100,000 for him / the UN? Dujarric said no: but why?

   We'll have more on the group's views, including on matter on the agenda of the UN Security Council. Watch this site.

 Inner City Press asked how much UN -- including Haitian aid -- money was spent on Ban's “private” campaign speech. Dujarric did not answer, turning to other correspondents (about Wonder Woman, another low point under Ban and his should-be-outgoing head of “Public Information” Cristina Gallach).

 On October 18, Inner City Press asked again, if money was charged. Video here. UN transcript: 

Inner City Press: You'd said that Ban Ki-moon's speech on Friday in Washington to the Council of Korean-Americans at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center was somehow a private appearance, but I've seen pictures of it.  He was in a tuxedo with a big screen behind him, and the media was present.  So, I'm left… I guess what I wonder is, what do you mean by "private"?  Was it open only to some media?  What… was…

Spokesman:  You'd have to ask the organizers.

Inner City Press:  But, if he spent… the money question is this… if it was a private…

Spokesman:  He was in Washington for a UN-related event, and he participated in a… in this event organized by this foundation, which was considered a private event.

ICP Question:  Was money charged to attend it?

Spokesman:  You'd have to ask the organizers.

ICP Question:  Would that be against UN rules?

Spokesman:  The Secretary-General and others appear sometimes in dinners where money is charged.

We'll have more on this.

   The Council of Korean-American's speech was covered with headlines like “Ban Ki-moon defends leadership to counter Western media’s criticism.” Ban's defense, it seems, is merely “personal” - in a parallel fictitious universe like Wonder Woman. Watch this site.