Wednesday, May 3, 2017

State Dept Chides "Corporatist" Venezuela For Not Taking UN Medical Help, Haiti Echo

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, May 2 – When US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Michael Fitzpatrick took press questions about Venezuela on May 2, he called Nicolas Maduro's plans for a constituent assembly "corporatist" and Venezuela's plan to stop attending Organization of American States meetings a "step backward for themselves." He chided the government for not accept help "even from the UN" for medical issues (the UN, one noted, introduced cholera to Haiti.) Fitzpatrick said the US has been using the OAS its way to be in contact with Venezuela, given the lack of an exchange of ambassadors. The moderator called in order on Reuters, EFE and Bloomberg, then CNN en Espanol and CBS; Fitzpatrick declined to say if Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would attend the planned ministerial meeting of the OAS, saying the date and location have not yet been selected.  Back on April 20 after US Vice President Mike Pence announced that Donald Trump will attend ASEAN and related meetings this November, the State Department held a half-hour telephone press briefing by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Southeast Asia Patrick Murphy. Responding to a mere five questions, Murphy began with Voice of America, answered a Malaysian outlet's question about visas to the US from that country and then told Reuters the US will continue its freedom of navigation operations. The issue of human rights, raised this week in the UN Security Council session by Ambassador Nikki Haley, was not addressed, though a question was taken about the Philippines anti-drug controversies. Even of the five questions, many were deferred to others in consular affairs or the Department of Defense. As to the UN,  early reports on possible Trump administration budget cuts have triggered push-back by former State Department staffers, some using pseudonymous Twitter accounts.
  Back on March 2 holdover Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Ambassador William Brownfield on the record insisted that the US' relationship with the United Nations is excellent. He cited an upcoming UN conference later this month at which he said he will be representing the United States. We'll see.
  Meanwhile on March 1, despite the billions of dollars the US gives to the UN, the UN website was down for hours, no one seemed to care. At the UN, the Department of Public Information under Cristina Gallach used public funds, one quarter from the US, for a training to tell DPI-accredited NGOs that Detroit, Michigan is a "third rate city" in "flyover country;" DPI had already evicted and continues to restrict the investigative Inner City Press which alone reported on the dissing of Detroit, and other UN corruption.
On US inauguration day on January 20 at the US Mission to the UN the photos of Obama, Biden, Kerry and Samantha Power came down. As of February 17 they have not been replaced.

  But as elsewhere an "Alt USUN" Twitter account continues in a parallel online universe the views of Power, most recently calling out new Ambassador Nikki Haley for only attending three of 13 UN Security Council meetings, on Ukraine, ISIS and Israel - Palestine.
  Fair enough. But how many meetings did Samantha Power attend? And after the Israel - Palestine meeting Nikki Haley took questionsat the Security Council stakeout, not pre-screened by Power's spokesman Kurtis Cooper - who remains at the US Mission, tweeting, along with many others.
  In fact, Isobel Coleman who did nothing when the DC-based whistleblower protection group Government Accountability Project wrote to her about the UN's eviction of the investigative Press, here, still as of February 17 lists herself as the US representative on UN reform. Is it true?
   In the UN itself, Obama and Hillary Clinton nominee Jeffrey Feltman has gotten his UN contract extended. Inner City Press first reported, from multiple sources, that Feltman sought this so that his UN pension would hit the five year vesting dateline. The UN's holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric called Inner City Press' question, and by implication Inner City Press, "despicable." Or is that, deplorable?
  Meanwhile Voice of America, which was shown under the US Freedom of Information Act to have asked the UN to throw out the investigative Press, has now asked about Jared Kushner (video via here) and asked the UK about Nikki Haley's inexperience. Like we said, an alternative universe.

  Other former State Department officials like Bathsheba Crocker wring their hands about changes in foreign policy. But what did they do, when the UN killed 10,000 plus people in Haiti with cholera? They had their time to try to improve the UN, and largely failed. It's time to #MoveOn.