Why Such Secrecy When North Korea’s Caught Shipping Weapons to Iran?

by Claudia Rosett @ Pajamas Media

It has the makings of the opening sequence in an apocalyptic thriller. A ship enters the Gulf, carrying a secret, illicit cargo of munitions, bound for Iran from North Korea. The ship is seized by the United Arab Emirates, where authorities discover that instead of the oil boring equipment listed on the manifest, the cargo includes some 10 containers filled with rocket launchers, ammunition, rocket-propelled grenades and detonators.

The UAE seizes the cargo and notifies the United Nations Security Council. But for weeks, the public is told nothing about it – not by the UN, and not by Washington. The event remains cloaked in silence, the ship is sent on its way. Finally, an unnamed diplomat leaks the information to the Financial Times, and the story starts to emerge…

Except this is no fantasy. This is the latest news out of the web connecting totalitarian, nuclear North Korea with the messianic, terrorist-sponsoring, nuclear wannabe regime of Iran. And here we go again.

The story about this North Korean arms shipment broke August 29th in the FT, and in the short time since we have been hearing slightly more — but not nearly enough. This North Korean shipment underscores huge and troubling questions about what else is going on inside the tangled web of clandestine deals with which the world’s tyrannies are busy these days — arming each other, supporting each other, and fueling their killing machines while western diplomats jaw-jaw about “engagement” and “mutual respect.”

And what a web it is. There’s a good summary of the scene on Hot Air . Both North Korea and Iran are under multiple UN sanctions, meant to stop their nuclear proliferation programs. This shipment offers a terrific example of how rogue countries try to dodge such sanctions. The ship was Australian, controlled by a French conglomerate, registered in the Bahamas, with the actual shipment, according to Reuters, “arranged by the Shanghai office of an Italian company.” So, in the middle of this clandestine arms deal is a crazy quilt of countries, businesses and legal jurisdictions, apparently involving Australia, France, the Bahamas, Italy and China — all with North Korea on one end and Iran on the other (Iranian authorities are now denying that this shipment was coming their way. These are the same folks who say their nuclear program is just for electricity). So, what else is out there right now, on the high seas, on land, or in the air, bearing false labeling and traveling the back alleys of global commerce?

The Wall Street Journal reports that “according to people familiar with the seizure,” there was “no nuclear-related material” found on board. Should we trust such unnamed sources? Who are they, and why are they unnamed? Recall the case of the secret nuclear reactor nearly completed by Syria, with North Korean help, modeled on North Korea’s Yongbyon complex. That reactor was destroyed two years ago, in September, 2007, by an Israeli air strike. But from a Bush administration intent at the time on trying to consumate a deal in which North Korea would denuclearize in exchange for loads of U.S. aid and concessions, the truth was covered up until the following April — leaving the public in the dark for more than half a year about the incriminating evidence of both North Korea’s proliferation racket, and its duplicity at the negotiating table.

It would be helpful, for instance, to hear more about those confiscated North Korean “detonators” bound for Iran. Perhaps, as the nameless sources have it, these detonators are not nuclear related. But in the process of making nuclear bombs, one of the trickiest parts to get right is the detonator. North Korea has been testing nuclear weapons, and so, presumably, has been working to acquire expertise with such items. Would some diplomat with an actual on-the-record name, or maybe even some official with a clearly defined job in the White House, be willing to assure us that nuclear detonators were in no way involved in this shipment?

Not that this shipment would be all right, even if limited to conventional arms. North Korea, following a blitz of nuclear and missile tests, is under UN sanctions that forbid such weapons exports. Iran’s regime has recently been busy murdering its own peaceful protesters, who took to the streets to protest the “re-election” as president of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran’s regime, along with its genocidal pronouncements about Israel, has a broad and deep record of terror abroad, including bombings in Beirut and Argentina, and the training, supporting and equipping today of terrorist groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in Gaza. For North Korea to be shipping weapons of any kind to Iran bodes ill.

The good news is that the UAE found this particular weapons shipment and seized it. Thank you, UAE — and if anyone tipped them off, thanks to them, too. Though with the UAE serving as a hub of Iranian commerce, a lot more evidence of similar diligence would be welcome. At least this is a step up from the recent exercise in which U.S. warships shadowed a North Korean freighter with a suspect cargo, but in the course of politely following UN rules to the letter, were impotent to board and actually check the cargo.

But why have both the UN and the White House been so coy about this story of North Korean arms to Iran? As of this writing there has still be no straightforward official confirmation from the UN, or from Washington, of any part of this tale. Various accounts, from the wire agencies, in the newspapers, and so forth, have been attributed to unnamed “diplomats,” or to persons “familiar” with the situation.

How odd. President Obama runs an administration that’s proving keen to ferret out and display to the public every twitch by every CIA interrogator who years ago tried to protect Americans from al-Qaeda plots. But in this very current matter of the murderous regime in Pyongyang shipping concealed and forbidden weapons to the killers of Tehran, the Obama team, with great delicacy, has left the facts misted over. We are hearing only from nameless “diplomats.”

From the UN, there has likewise been nothing official. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has been busy hailing the “latest steps” in relations between North and South Korea. The Security Council sanctions committee which received direct word from the UAE about the arms shipment has kept quiet. The three-member UN bureau overseeing sanctions on North Korea is chaired by Turkey, and the two vice-chairs are Costa Rica and Libya. Yes, you read that right –Libya, which currently holds one of the 10 rotatings seats on the UN Security Council, and is about to provide the next president of the General Assembly for its 2009-2010 session. (This would be the same Libya whose tyrant, Muammar Qaddafi, was perhaps distracted from North-Korean-Iranian weapons traffic by such questions as where he might pitch his tent when he comes to New York next month, to speak immediately after President Obama on the Sept. 24th opening day of speeches to the General Assembly. And the same Qaddafi who just welcomed home one of his own terrorist agents, convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset Ali Al-Megrahi, released by Scotland on “compassionate grounds.”)

This precise timing of this arms shipment seizure seems unclear; it has been variously reported as having happened around mid-August, or perhaps earluer. It comes, of course, as North Korea has been making overtures again to the U.S. about returning to the bargaining table. It comes in the same season as Bill Clinton’s trip to retrieve jailed employees of Al Gore TV venture from Pyongyang. It comes as President Obama heads into a fall season in which he still seems to have some expectation that by extending a hand to Iran’s regime, he can curtail the threats posed not only by its nuclear program, but by its global terror networks, and cozy dealings with the likes of Syria and North Korea.

There’s a lot of incentive under Obama’s extended-hand policy for the U.S. to downplay, yet again, a global web of rogue powers and murderous designs, in which the UAE seizure has just highlighted dirty dealings between two major hubs — North Korea and Iran. This is the audacity of evil. If Obama wants to steer toward real hope and change on the foreign front, he needs to step up to the microphone and with at least as much audacity, tell American voters, and the world, exactly what’s going on, and just how pervasive and dangerous these webs are — whether Iran and North Korea want us to hear about it, or not.

At UN, Juul Memo Triggers Scramble for Posts, Nixon-like Defenses on Malaysia's Day

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 31 -- Diplomatic circles at the UN in New York still reverberate with the leaked critique of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon signed by Norway's deputy ambassador Mona Juul. While the truth of most of the critiques is hard for all but the most fervent Ban supporters to deny, speculation continues to center on who leaked it, why it was leaked and relatedly what the memo and its leak might accomplish.

A cross section of Ambassadors offered their views to Inner City Press on Monday. A South Asian Permanent Representative, relatively new on the UN scene but already a presence, opined that "the perceived weakness" of Mr. Ban is being used to "try to grab spoils," which in the UN is to say, posts.

He characterized as "old news" the portion of Juul's memo which has the UK's John Holmes taking over the chief of staff spot from Vijay Nambiar. Others say that by year's end, Nambiar will be handed another UN post, presumably at the Under Secretary General level, perhaps like Jean Maurice Ripert. On that, there is curiosity of where Ban created Ripert's USG post from, without approval from the Fifth (Budget) Committee. Was the still vacant Office of the Special Adviser on Africa USG post being used?

Another Ambassador from an ASEAN country said that portion of the memo "can't be good for Nambiar," adding that a perceived need is for someone to tell Ban "what he needs to hear, and not want he wants to hear." Another opined that the one UN Special Representative praised in Juul's memo, her countryman Kai Eide at the UN Mission in Afghanistan, was in fact hurt by the inclusion of his name.

A Ban supporter, from a country which should be obvious, blamed the leak on internal Norwegian politics, the opposition versus the party in power, with Mona Juul somehow involved. He reminded, as others did, that Juul has sought but not gotten an ASG post from Ban. He dismissed the importance of Ban not being allowed by Than Shwe to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi, saying that the UN's goal in Myanmar is democratization, a goal "larger than Suu Kyi." Even he offered no defense of Ban's performance on Sri Lanka.

Online, an almost laughable defense of Ban has been published in the Korea Times, concluding that "if you sincerely support the United Nations and care about its future, why not get behind Ban and watch his back... undermining Ban with corrosively poisonous criticism could set in motion an acidic chemistry that winds up eating away at the United Nations itself."

But when those who were critical of Richard Nixon, for example, were accused of thereby undermining the U.S., many of them replied that it was precisely because they were patriots that they opposed what Nixon was doing.

UN's Ban and the Norwegians, Juul memo echoes in NY not shown

Those interviewed by Inner City Press include some major supporters of the UN, including Ambassadors of small countries which need or want a strong UN. Without of course equating Ban Ki-moon and Nixon, if the defense of Ban is that a critique of him is a critique of the UN, that is lame.

Footnotes: at the celebration of Malaysia's national day on August 31 at that country's mission, the squid was spicy and the mango juice was cold. Deputy Secretary General Asha Rose Migiro appeared, and left by limo with the ubiquitous Parfait. The U.S., it seemed, was represented at the level of DPR, the level of Mona Juul. It was said that there will be no Qaddafi tent at all, only a hotel room like the other leaders attending. South Korea's president will be coming to the General Assembly, and to the G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh. India's Prime Minister, it seems, will attend only the G-20, followed by a visit to Washington in October.

Some small countries complained of perceived mistreatment by UN Protocol, and of what they called the pro big country bias of Ban's September 22 climate change event. The Malaysians were nothing but gracious, and barbecued satays on the patio behind their mission. As the weather cools down, the UN is about to heat up. Watch this site.

Excited to launch CLSR Fellowship

My name is Adonia Simpson and I'm the 2009-2010 CLSR Fellow at New England Law Boston. As Fellow, I'lll be assisting all Center Professors with their respective projects (criminal, environmental, immigration, women and children, tobacco policy, and general public interest).

We'll all keep this blog current with pro bono opportunities and other developments in our respective areas, and also with upcoming LawMatters events, which are open to the entire law school community and often the public as well.

My main solo project is my work at Greater Boston Legal Services in the area of Special Immigrant Juveniles. Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) can be granted to undocumented minors who have been declared dependents of U.S. juvenile court or a state agency or department due to abuse, abandonment or neglect. It promises to be a very intense and rewarding experience.

Please feel free to respond to this or any post, or to contact me for additional information at adonia.r.simpson@nesl.edu.

In Norway, UN's Ban Silent on Sri Lankan Killings and Sudan, Dodges on Myanmar

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 31 -- Days after video footage of the Sri Lankan Army committing summary executions was broadcast on the UK's Channel 4 and then elsewhere, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Norway was asked if he acknowledges that he has been failing to address the problems in Sri Lanka. Ban's answer was the same talking points he has been using since his May "victory lap" visit to the the country:

"I have made it quite clear to President [Mahinda] Rajapaksa that even though the fighting might be over, there are much more important things to be done. There is political reconciliation and reaching out to minority groups, including the Tamils, therefore, including the process for the accountability for any violation of international human rights law, international humanitarian laws. They must take all necessary measures. I have met already President Rajapaksa several times. I have called him to follow up my commitment after my visit."

Ban's entourage knew that questions would be asked during his visit to Norway, in the wake of the leak of that country's deputy ambassador to the UN Mona Juul's devastating critique of what she called his lack of "moral authority," about his performance in Sri Lanka, as well as Myanmar and Sudan. Ban's spokesperson was asked about and shown the Sri Lanka execution video. Yet with all this preparation, what Ban did was refer with jargon to "the process for the accountability for any violation of international human rights law, international humanitarian laws. They must take all necessary measures."

What does this mean? The Sri Lankan government, since Ban's visit, has canceled the investigation into killing such as those of 17 aid workers of Action Contre la Faim. It has rebuffed calls for any other investigations, and immediately denounced the airing of the execution video. Tellingly, its incoming ambassador to the UN Palitha Kohona was quoted over the weekend in the Daily Mirror that "a winning side has never been subjected to such an inquiry, including after the World War Two."

Ignoring for example the indictment of still "winning" Sudanese president Omar al Bashir for war crimes, Kohona's appears to some to be a battle cry for impunity. Ban's response? The same talking points as three months ago.

Ban's answers came in response to the second of only two questions taken after Ban met with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. Prior to that, Ban was to be met at the airport by Norway's Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim, who days ago said of the execution footage that "this is something I will discuss with Ban Ki-moon when he comes... even if the purpose of his trip is about climate and environment." Even after this, Ban had nothing but the same talking points to offer.

UN's Ban, about Norway, before leaving, Sri Lankan execution video not shown

The Juul memo zeroed in on what it characterized as Ban's failed trips to Sri Lanka and Myanmar. Tellingly, although asked about Sudan, Ban did not say a single word about that country. On Myanmar, he replied that

"I have visited Myanmar twice and I have met Senior General Than Shwe three times. I have laid out a very strong message, straightforward, directly to the Senior General and even to the general public, [saying] what expectations we have for the Myanmar people. We were able to open up this society so that humanitarian assistance could flow smoothly. Last year, in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, together with the international community, particularly led by the Norwegian Government, we were able to save at least a half million [people] during the cyclone. Now, we need to work more for the democratization of Myanmar. I have made it quite clear, publicly and privately, that this election in 2010 must be a fair and credible and inclusive one. For that, all political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, should be released. I am working very hard to keep up pressure on the commitments they made and you have my full commitment on that."

When Ban was in Myanmar, a trip used by the government, he was not allowed to visit Aung San Suu Kyi. Shortly thereafter, a U.S. Senator, Jim Webb, was granted such a visit, and left the country with her co-defendant John Yettaw. The UN appears poised to offer what legitimacy it can to an election held under a Constitution pushed through after the Cyclone, which limits many seats and powers to those with military backgrounds. Still Ban claims he is pressuring Myanmar -- and that on Sri Lanka he has "met already President Rajapaksa several times. I have called him to follow up my commitment after my visit."

Only last week, the head of the Colombo-based Center for Policy Alternative told the Press at the UN of widespread disappointment in Sri Lankan civil society that all Ban offered was a 24 hour visit and "a few phone calls." These critiques do not appear to have sunk in, the same talking points get repeated again and again, even in the face of evidence of summary executions. What's next? Watch this site.

Somali Continental Shelf Filing Rejected by Parliament Has Norway "Embarrassed," UN Admits

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 31 -- The Somali parliament recently voted over 90% against a deal cut by UN envoy Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, using Norwegian assistance, to make a joint Kenya - Somali filing about the Somali people's rights to the continental shelf and its natural resources. Even before the vote, Inner City Press had repeatedly asked the UNby what right Ould Abdallah had coordinated the filing,without getting a straight answer.

Now, with meetings about the Continental Shelf and the Law of the Sea taking place in the basement of the UN's headquarters in New York, Inner City Press finally got at least some answers.

In a meeting on "The Regular Process of Marine Assessments" held by the UN's Office of Legal Affairs, Inner City Press asked a group of UN experts how they deal with a now-contested filing like the one about Somalia. At first, an expert tried to evade the question, saying it could only be asked and answered at another meeting down the hall about the Limits of the Continental Shelf. But those meetings are all closed.

The master of ceremonies Peter Gilruth, director of the UN Environment Program's Division of Early Warning and Assessment, said he would try to answer, although he felt it might put his "head in a difficult spot." He said that Norway paid for the filings of some 10 African countries but that in Somalia, some "other elements.... may have tried to take the information in a different direction, causing the difficulty you refer to." Gilruth that moved the proceedings forward, asking if there were "any questions easier than that one."

Afterwards, Inner City Press approached Mr. Gilruth, who said that the whole Somali filing snafu "involved embarrassment to the government of Norway."

Next to him Patricio Bernal, UNESCO Assistant Director-General and Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, said that he had been working on this for ten years, he had coordinated with the Somali "government in exile" in Nairobi, and he could not understand the stink made in Somalia itself. He emphasized that the decisions in Continental Shelf meetings -- behind closed doors, mind you -- are "unappealable."

UN's Ban, Jean Ping and Ould Abdallah, Somali Parliament's rejection not shown

Perhaps the ongoing snafu reflects that to deal with the Somali government in exile, or the TFG, or Ould Abdallah, is not to deal with the Somali people, and is no guarantee of support or legitimacy. Ould Abdallah, meanwhile, is reported trying to invite into the TFG process a notorious war lord. Inner City Press asked about this last week at the UN's noon briefing, and the Spokesperson said an answer would be sought from Ould Abdallah. But still none has been received. Watch this site.

As first reported by Inner City Press, the filing states that Ould Abdallah

"initiated the preparation of preliminary information indicative of the outer limits of the continental shelf of Somalia beyond 200 nautical miles... In the preparation of this material the SRSG accepted an offer of assistance from the Government of Norway... Both the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate have been involved in the preparation...

Inner City Press wrote about this and asked the UN and Ould's spokesperson Suzie Price, but never received an answer.

On May, the question was put to Ould Abdallah and he said he is "no specialist," that he was unfamiliar with the filing that states that he prepared it. "Ask Norway," he said. Video here, from Minute 12:30.

Like Kofi, like Ban Nepotism returns to United Nations

By Judi McLeod

Canada Free Press

Original Source: http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/328

Qualifiers bound to get you a “jammy job” at the high-handed, diplomatic immunity protected United Nations? Other than being a bureaucrat down to the core, it helps if you are mealy-mouthed, politically correct and good at hiding when challenging times demand decisions. Think Kofi Annan in Rwanda.

Well, as the French would say, the more things change the more things remain the same at the world’s largest bureaucracy.

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s son, Kojo used Daddy’s name to get his green Mercedes sent back home to Ghana on the cheap, and somehow landed himself a job with a firm then connected to the Oil-for-Food scandal

According to UN watchdog Inner City Press, rookie UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s son-in-law Siddarth Chatterjee has been announced as his wife’s father’s chief of staff.

Inner City Press picked up “a small item” about this latest UN nepotism from the Washington Post and ran the gamut on it.

That’s Ban’s fancy footwork in the looking after the family department.

In the Getting by with a Little Help from my Friends Department, there’s Ban’s former colleague in the South Korean foreign ministry, Choi Young-jin, recently named Ban’s envoy to the Ivory Coast.

The UN, which relies more on the media communique than even the U.S. government, teaches all “spokespeople” how to handle embarrassing questions from the media.

“For weeks it had been rumored that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s son-in-law would get a high post with the UN in Iraq, and that Mr. Ban’s former colleague in the South Korean foreign ministry, Choi Young-jin, would be named Ban’s envoy to the Ivory Coast.” (Inner City Press, Oct. 19, 2007). “About the latter, Inner City Press asked Ban’s spokesperson Michele Montas, after hearing from Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo that the envoy had been mutually selected. Ms. Montas had no comment at the time. Then on October 18, the Choi appointment was announced, and the following morning’s Washington Post carried a small item noting that Ban’s Iraq envoy Steffan de Mistura is naming Ban’s son-in-law Siddarth Chatterjee as his chief of staff. There are stories behind each, portions of which we’ll endeavor to tell in this end-of-week column.

“On Friday Inner City Press asked Ms. Montas about Chattterjee’s appointment in Iraq, and she responded that it is strictly a matter between Mr. de Mistura and Chatterjee, that it is a lateral move and not a promotion, and that “we feel the publication of any information that increases the risk to any staff member and to the mission as a whole is not very helpful.”

”Inner City Press asked, “Are you saying that the Washington Post’s publication puts the mission at risk?”

“I’m saying what I said,” Mrs. Montas replied.

“An aside: Inner City Press often takes and presents UN Spokesperson Montas’ objections to the legitimacy of questions at face value. But in this case, we have reason to believe, and have decided to report, that the responsibility for the above-quoted dig at press freedom lies on the 38th Floor, and not the third (where the Spokesperson’s Office is housed). Apparently from the highest levels, attempts were made that this widely-rumored story not be published.

“But since it is journalistically legitimate, even imperative, to report on what some are calling possible nepotism in public institutions, security concerns would have militated (sic) against this assignment of the Secretary-General’s son-in-law to Iraq.

“`It’s a big world,’” as one source fearing retaliation put it, adding that Chatterjee was initially going to be promoted from P-5 up into the “D” ranks, but that it was decided to forego this for now, to present the move as lateral.

“The subtext to Ms. Montas’ statement that this was a matter between Mr. de Mistura and Mr. Chatterjee is that these fearful insiders report that Mr. de Mistura made the appointment in order to curry favor on the 38th floor, just as, the sources say, he previously hired the son of Kofi Annan’s close aide Iqbal Riza. What makes it unrealistic to expect this story not to be explored is that de Mistura was so recently given the Iraq envoy post.

“The new envoy to the Ivory Coast, Choi Young-jin, assumes a difficult position. The previous two envoys were essentially thrown out by president Gbagbo after they pushed to compliance with the elections time-table and spoke about corruption. While it is said that Gbagbo initially rejected the suggestion of Choi as the new envoy, his subsequently changed position leads many to question how assertive he will be about compliance with the revised elections time-line, to say nothing of corruption.”

The United Nations has proven it is the kind of place where, when the first sign of corruption raises its ugly head, friends are called in to investigate.

Paul Volcker, who headed up the Independent Inquiry Commission into the Oil-for-Food scandal, held a seat on Power Corp’s international advisory board. Power’s founding father, Paul Desmarais is a major shareholder and director of TotalFinaElf, the biggest oil corporation in France, which has held tens of billions of dollars in contracts with the deposed regime of Saddam Hussein--originators of the largest scandal in world history.

Meanwhile over at Turtle Bay, the age-old axiom “like father, like son” could have added, like Kofi, like Ban.

Unjunk Mail

"In an unusual but completely sensible move, Dukky is both a direct mail company and the company behind Unjunk Mail, a service that lets you both opt out and in of what mailings you’d like to receive from Dukky. After all, whether we admit it or not, there are a few things we’d actually like to get in the mail. Or in Dukky’s case, email or SMS are also an option. Then, after having done extensive research to find the best combination of free, easy, and effective, Unjunk Mail gives you the direct link to three services that cover removing the spectrum of potential direct mail offerings."

I love this idea of choosing whether I want to receive a catalog or not. I receive literally hundreds of pieces of junk mail a week. But yes, in some ways there can be a positive environmental impact with junk mail, as I am tending to do more and more shopping at home and driving less to the stores at the mall. It is of great advantage for me to receive the catalogs I want.
I think more importantly though, it's time for businesses to get involved in assessing their impact on the environment by asking the consumer whether they want to stay or be removed from the mailing list. I think only one company has ever done that with me.
Is Dukky working with companies directly on this?
All in all this is a great idea and thanks for spreading the word about it.

Comment posted on Can Junk Mail Ever Be Considered Sustainable? Possibly | Triple Pundit at www.triplepundit.com using Reframe It

The Not To Be Missed Unconference Day at SOCAP09

"Three full days of rich content. Over 100 speakers. A special unconference day. In its second year, the Social Capital Markets conference brings together the broad ecosystem of funds, foundation and individual investors and donors, and for-profit and non-profit entrepreneurs using business to make a positive difference. If you're an investor or donor, entrepreneur or executive, your task is simple: be at SOCAP09."

About a month ago I had the opportunity to interview Kevin Jones of GoodCapital and the organizer of SOCAP 2009. One of the subjects we touched upon was the third day, the “unconference” day of SOCAP09. This topic interests me a lot as I see people coming together to just talk in many number formats as an incredibly powerful tool for supporting each other, building on ideas and creating new initiatives. Many people night choose to leave after the second day, thinking- what the heck is an “unconference” day and is it worthwhile to hang around? Whatever you do -don’t miss it!

There are, for sure, fabulous speakers and attendees coming to this year’s SOCAP09. But the opportunity to dialogue on the topics of mutual interest and co-create new ideas, should not to be missed. Here’s why, in Kevin’s words.

LH: Tell me a little bit about your organizing the SOCAP09 conference in Sept. I am particularly interested in that third day is an open space type format, because I use a facilitation tool, Appreciative Inquiry, that uses Open Space within its format. How are you structuring that?

KJ: Well we did it last year in that traditional sort of Open Space Technology format, where somebody says : “I want to talk about this” and we will see if people are interested and they vote with their feet. Oddly enough we had fifty grids and there were fifty topics. I have never seen it where it was a perfect open grid format.

And most people stayed for the third day and the ones who stayed almost uniformly said it was their favorite day. But on the first day people were afraid of it because they hadn’t been to something so unstructured. These are people from maybe financial services or international aid agencies, investment banks, social venture funds and all of them are used to something structured; it’s structured capital, it’s institutional. So that the idea of a free play day, based on the quality of the people we had convened was scary to some of them. But they became converts because they saw the density of the content, so the whole breath of the market was there and that the convening was right. We had brought together the right people and they trusted these people like Sub-Saharan African funds working on water or aid agencies doing some innovative things. They trusted the convening they trusted the content and the context and then they were able to do it their own way. That was neat.

We kept on trying to put a grid on it. It was hard not to put some form on it. But we decided to keep it like this.

So, we had people working on particular sector together like Sub-Saharan water in Africa or we had people working in a particular region, the South Americans or whatever and the groups were organized around these. Although we designed the event really well, you still never catch all of the interest and so groups formed, maybe there were five people around a topic like equitable sustainable energy in West Africa. And for those five people it was really valuable to come together.

LH. I really applaud that. I get frustrated when I go to a conference; you get inspired, you walk out and okay, then what?

KJ. That’s why we built the Hub too. SOCAP09 is once a year. The Hub is for every day. All these social entrepreneurs want to help each other, because they all need help.

Business Philanthropy Has Some Fun

Combining social media, business and philanthropy helped one needy and Detroit area family find housing and get back on their feet.

Last May the Live to Give Foundation was chosen as the recipient of the first Detroit Charity Tweetup. The Detroit firm, Identity Marketing and Public Relations rallied 6 corporate sponsorships and more than 100 Detroit Twitter users that attended a Tweetup at Bar Louie of Novie, which helped raise over $1,500 for the Shuck family of Rochester Hills. These sponsors each donated $1 for every person that showed up and that support made the event successful:

Not to minimize the pain and difficulties that so many people in the world experience, but there are ways to have some fun and do some good for the world- and businesses in the Detroit area chose to do just that.

In his message to me, Ryan Doyle the Founder and Director of the Live to Give Foundation wrote:"Philanthropy is so important for businesses to take part in".

Live to Give Foundation is made up of a team of 8 college graduates of which 7/8 are all under 23 years old. This that they has are very proud of and people really enjoy to hear. "We are young minds with big hearts trying to inspire our generation into action."

Right on Ryan!


Reports of Nepotism for UN's Ban Ki-moon Removed From Internet After Legal Threats by Ban's Son in Law

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 22 -- The son in law of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Siddarth Chatterjee, had used threats of legal action to force the removal from the Internet of comments that he may have gotten his promotion with the UN Office of Project Services in Copenhagen due to nepotism, Inner City Press has learned.

In preparing its exclusive August 14 article on nepotism at the UN and Ban's position on and in it, Inner City Press ran across an article in the Indian Star online, which cited Inner City Press' previous piece on Chatterjee's promotion with the UN in Iraq. Recently, that Indian Star article and comments were taken off the Internet -- following a threat from Chatterjee and then by his India-based lawyer. Click here for the now-empty page.

Free press advocates express concern at the threats, noting that in such matters "the cover-up is always worse that the crime," and demanding that Ban Ki-moon rebuke and renounce them. But will it happen?

Here for the record, and as requested by free press advocates in several continents, are comments which were on the Indian Star page which Ban's son in law, not stopped and presumably encouraged by Ban, got removed from the Internet by legal intimidation:

(Replied: Saturday, May 02, 2009, 06:05 am EST)

Interesting indeed. Some of us have, until very recently, had the misfortune of being exposed to this man, in a professional sense, in Iraq. Spineless is a very appropriate term to use in describing this individual. There are more, but few are fit for publication. He is, indeed, a discredit to India, the Indian Army, and now the UN (where, incidentally, he has recently moved on significant promotion - despite already being totally over-promoted in the opinion of all that know, and have to work with, him). The recent recruitment of this man to the United Nations Office of Project Services in Copenhagen is yet another example of the ineptitude, nepotism and corruption which is so prevalent within the UN system, even at the highest levels (in this case, within UNOPS). But those in Baghdad are delighted that UNOPS has taken him away from Iraq all the same.

It is a shame. And it would appear people are still being fooled.

and Posted: Saturday, February 28, 2009, 06:34 am EST


Siddharth Chatterjee is a spineless man .He could not even pass the staff exams in Indian Army ... IT IS A SHAME THAT United Nations... GET FOOLED

After the Indian Star article and its comments went offline, they still remained available in the cache of Google and other search engines. Ban's son in law's lawyers made more legal threats -- "this is round two of the Bans and Google," said one observer of plans by the UN to get Inner City Press removed from Google News, click here for the most recent -- to get it out of cache.

Now even that censorship of questions of nepotism within Ban's UN has been accomplished -- click here for the now empty cache page.

Siddarth Chatterjee a public figure, and thus his legal threats are spurious, even an abuse of process. He is the son in law of the UN Secretary General, he was awarded a job at the UN's D-2 level (see below. Now, after refusing to answer Inner City Press' repeated questions referred by Ban's Spokesperson's Office if Chatterjee is a D-2 or a D-1, UNOPS tells other journalists that he is a D-1, in order to forestall other media coverage. Will it work?

UN's top lawyer O'Brien and Ban Ki-moon, legal threats of son in law not shown

Most recently, UNOPS in Copenhagen has told a Nordic newspaper what Chatterjee is a D-1, without explaining that the post was described by UNOPS' deputy director, in writing, as a D-2 post:

Sent: 03 March 2009 11:09
Subject: Welcome to the new mailgroup

As you know, yesterday EUO and MEO formally merged into a new regional office called EMO (Europe and the Middle East) based in Copenhagen...I will be acting Regional Director of EMO until we have recruited a “permanent” replacement. In response to our advertisement for the D-2 regional director job, we received some 130 applications. Five candidates were short-listed for interviews: four were interviewed last Friday and the last interview is scheduled for Thursday this week. We’d like to make a decision by mid-March.

So even assuming that, as in Iraq, the UN decided even if only belatedly to keep Mr. Chatterjee a level below the grade of the post they awarded him, that is only being done to discourage press coverage of nepotism.

Even this raises questions of whether Ban, who came into the UN system promising reform and to run things cleanly, is due to his relatives' promotions so paranoia and angry about questions of nepotism that he has a conflict of interest in dealing with charges of nepotism against others in the UN, for example his own envoy to the Congo Alan Doss -- click herefor that.

Inner City Press broke the story about Alan Doss asking the UN Development Program for "leeway," to bend hiring rules and give his daughter Rebecca Doss a job in UNDP's Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific leading to a "man bite man" incident which was the focus of other media's follow up coverage. After Inner City Press' story about Ban and nepotism early on August 14, Ban's Deputy Spokesperson wrote to Inner City Press that:

From: okabe@un.org
To: matthew.lee@innercitypress.com
Sent: 8/14/2009 7:57:02 A.M. Eastern Standard Time
Subj: your latest entry

What I said was that queries on the biting incident should be directed to the NY County DA Office.

On the allegations, we take the matter very seriously.

"The Secretary-General is aware of the situation. He has been assured that a thorough independent investigation is underway, He takes this matter very seriously, and expects to see a report upon his return to NY."

Ban Ki-Moon returned to New York from his South Korea vacation and delivered prepared remarks at a World Humanitarian Day event in the UN's visitors' lobby on August 19. He took no questions. On August 21, after waiting two days, Inner City Press asked Ms. Okabe if Ban had as he expected now received the report on nepotism, and what would he do about it?

Ms. Okabe answered that although Ban had returned to New York, he had gone on leave again. So finally, what will he do?

Footnotes: in the course of legally threatening the Indian newspaper -- but not U.S. based Inner City Press -- it was argued that the Indian Star report which triggered the two comments Chatterjee and Ban did not like was "based only on a blog." The response was that Inner City Press is better read, at least online, than the Indian newspaper they threatened.

On that, Reuters of August 21 reported that "U.N. officials also complain bitterly about the indefatigable bloggerMatthew Lee, whose website Inner City Press regularly accuses Ban and other U.N. officials of hypocrisy and failing to keep their promises to reform the United Nations and root out corruption." Later, a telling second phrase was added: "(Some U.N. officials accuse Lee of not always getting his facts right, but his blog has become unofficial required reading for U.N. staffers around the world.)"

Ironically, on August 20 a UN under secretary general approached Inner City Press about the anti-Ban memo by Norwegian deputy permanent representative Mona Juul, having "just read it on your blog." For all of Ms. Juul's criticism of Ban, from Myanmar to Sri Lanka to climate change, Juul missed the nepotism and family connection angle. Her husband Terje Roed Larsen works for Ban, as another of his Under Secretaries General who has refused to make any disclosure of his finance or to answer Inner City Press' questions about them.

This is run for the proposition that as well as being a nepotism cover up scandal, this is a story about new media. Ban and his son in law have lawyers threaten ill-read newspapers for daring to carry a report based on what they call the "blog" Inner City Press and two resulting comments. They urge what they view as "real" or mainstream media not to cover stories which are broken by Inner City Press -- which, for example, had the world exclusive, acknowledged on Associated Press and in Japan media amog others, of the final draft of the Security Council's North Korea sanctions.

Inner City Press, which writes more about Myanmar than other UN based correspondents, was never even told of the opportunity, given to others, to accompany and report on Ban's ultimately failed trip there. Some say that in all this, Ban is being ill-advised by those around him. The question remains: is this anachronistic media strategy of cover up, deployed by Team Ban, working? Watch this site.