Accuracy in Media

The New York Times story by Warren Hoge about the U.N. Secretary-General’s plan for U.N. reform ran in several papers. We found it in a Florida newspaper under the impressive headline “Annan Offers His Blueprint to Make the U.N. More Efficient.” But you had to read until the 18th paragraph of the story to find out that “His proposals carry a price tag of $510 million.”

The story said that $100 million of that figure would go “to paying for $100,000 buyouts for 1,000 people.” In other words, it costs $100 million to get rid of 1,000 people. The U.S., being the largest “contributor” to the world body, is expected to pay for a lot of this.

At the U.N., apparently, you can’t just fire people. You have to pay them to leave.

Interestingly, no reform was proposed of the U.N. Joint Staff Pension Fund. Why? Because it has been a huge success. It’s the best-managed program at the U.N. because U.N. employees directly benefit from it. They find it in their own self-interest to manage it properly. It is now worth $29 billion, up from $26.5 billion a year ago.  And there is absolutely no hint in the Annan U.N. reform plan that this huge fund will be tapped into to pay for the buy-outs of U.N. staff.

Among other things, Christopher Burnham, the American Under-Secretary-General for Management at the United Nations, has revealed that “?while employees at the White House must disclose gifts over $25 from a single source in a calendar year, and similarly, those who work for the European Commission must disclose gifts of 10 Euros, United Nations employees were only required to declare gifts of $10,000 and above?”

In his important book, The Future of the United Nations, Joshua Muravchik points out that U.N. reform plans date back to the organization’s founding. He says, “For all the reform, adaptation, and fresh approaches, the UN does not function better today than at its founding. In some ways it functions worse.” He quotes Rosemary Righter of the Times of London as saying that reform proposals have been sabotaged and that none “secured the termination of a single useless activity.”

Muravchik comments, “This stubborn reality suggests that the organization is impervious to useful reform.” 

Meanwhile, UNICEF, the U.N. agency funded by U.S. taxpayers to the tune of $311 million in 2004 and actually run by an American, will not fire Harry Belafonte as a “Goodwill Ambassador” for saying that President Bush is the “greatest tyrant” and “greatest terrorist” in the world. UNICEF’s head is Ann M. Veneman, who was Secretary of Agriculture under President Bush.

Veneman spokesperson Kate Donovan says the U.N. agency has disavowed his comments but won’t go any further.

Belafonte, a one-time Calypso artist, was designated a UNICEF “Goodwill Ambassador” in 1987 because of his “commitment to human rights.” But he attacked Bush while rubbing elbows with the lunatic anti-American authoritarian ruler of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez.

UNICEF says that the comments “were made as a private citizen, and not in his role as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, nor in an official capacity on behalf of the organization,” and that “UNICEF does not endorse these comments.”

Belafonte has been labeled “Calypso’s King of Hate” by Young America’s Foundation for his record of anti-American statements.  His latest comments depicted the Department of Homeland Security as the Nazi Gestapo.

He appeared with Hillary Clinton at a Children’s Defense Fund event in New York on January 16.

Last year, at the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy annual benefit, Belafonte and Arianna Huffington were honored for “Speaking Truth to Power.” Huffington is best known for losing her wealthy husband to the homosexual-rights movement. A favorite of Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz, Huffington is now a Hollywood fellow-traveler.

The Drum Major Institute, a so-called “progressive” public policy group, boasts of financial support from Hollywood’s Paul Newman as well as the Open Society Institute of convicted inside trader and billionaire George Soros. 

I have an idea-let George Soros pay for the U.N.

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