We're asking New Yorkers to charge their cell phones and take pictures and videos of diplomats and their entourages living the high life during the U.N. General Assembly. Some will spend more on a single pair of shoes than their countrymen earn in a year.
Washington, D.C. (PRWEB) September 21, 2012
100Reporters is launching KleptoWatch 2012, a video and photo contest intended to “name and shame” government officials who spare no expense at New York City’s top hotels, department stores, restaurants boutiques and jewelry stores during the United Nations General Assembly, currently underway.
The contest runs from September 24th through October 1st and offers cash prizes for the winning photos and videos. 100Reporters is seeking videos and photos that capture the vast disconnect between the comfy life of the governing elite in much of the world and the austerity or widespread poverty of their countrymen.
Each September, hundreds of government officials sweep into New York for the opening of the General Assembly, and they typically drop millions of dollars at five-star hotels, high-end boutiques, department stores, restaurants and clubs. Said 100Reporters Executive Editor Diana Jean Schemo, “We're asking New Yorkers and visitors to charge up their cell phones and take pictures and videos of diplomats and their entourages living the high life during the U.N. General Assembly. Some will spend more on a single pair of shoes than their countrymen earn in a year.”
From September 24 through October 1, 2012, entrants in the citizen-driven contest should e-mail their photos and videos to kleptowatch@100R.org or they may upload their videos to YouTube using the tag #kleptowatch, and post the link with their entry form at 100r.org/kleptowatch-2012-name-that-shame.
Full contest details can be found at http://100r.org/2012/09/kleptowatch-2012-name-that-shame/. Contest rules are at http://100r.org/2012/09/the-rules/.
Editors will post photos and videos on https:100R.org and on 100Reporters Facebook page. Submissions will be judged on the basis of newsworthiness, quality and audience support (comments on the web site and Facebook "Likes"). First prize is $250. Second prize is $100. Honorable mention wins $50.
Winners will be announced Friday, October 5th, on the 100Reporters web site and Facebook page.
Although many businesses in New York are happy for the jolt to the local economy that the visiting dignitaries bring, they may not realize that the diplomatic lush life comes at a cost. Hotel managers have described officials arriving for the week with briefcases laden with cash.
Over the last year, law enforcement agencies around the world have begun to investigate excessive spending by foreign government officials and, in extreme cases, moved to seize ill-gotten gains. The New York Times reported last month that French prosecutors and the U.S. Justice Department are going after the assets of Teodorin Obiang, the playboy son of Equatorial Guinea’s president, who somehow amassed a fleet of super-expensive cars that include two Bugatti Veyrons, a Maserati, a Porsche and two Ferraris Bugattis, a $30 million mansion in Malibu and a $180 million mansion on Paris’s super-chic Avenue Foch. His official government salary? Less than $100,000. (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/24/world/europe/for-obiangs-son-high-life-in-paris-is-over.html)
"Even if you've never known poverty, you know honest public servants usually can't spend like millionaires,” said Schemo. “So if you see them splurging at five-star hotels or heading to their limos with shopping bags in tow, take their pictures and win a prize. We'll do the rest."
During the UN General Assembly last year, for example:
- Paul Kagame, the president of Rwanda, stayed in the presidential suite at the Mandarin Oriental, for which his government paid $16,000 a night. Kagame represents one of the poorest countries on the planet, with 83 percent of Rwandans living on less than $2 a day, according to the UK's Daily Mail (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2040207/UN-Assembly-Hobnobbing-Arnold-Schwarzenegger-16-000-night-presidential-suites.html),
And 100Reporters' cameras caught the Moroccan foreign minister being squired around town in a sleek Bentley (http://100r.org/2011/10/kleptowatch-catch/). In Rabat, citizens fired up by the Arab Spring grew outraged upon learning that the Minister of Youth and Sports had a government-issued Audi.
100Reporters has formed partnerships with other news operations, including Sahara Reporters, the Investigative News Network and the nonprofit Global Financial Integrity. In the year since its launch, 100Reporters’ stories have appeared in The New York Times, the Rachel Maddow Show and the Huffington Post.
About 100Reporters: 100Reporters is a groundbreaking citizen-driven project aimed at exposing corruption and promoting government accountability. The Web site joins top journalists from around the world with whistleblowers. Their new partnership exposes graft and corruption in the United States and around the world and it covers corruption not as an isolated episode, but as an ongoing story with lasting implications.
For more information please visit http://www.100R.org