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Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

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UN's Big Day Begins with Bagels and Barricades, the O.J. of this G.A. is Iran's President

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN

UNITED NATIONS, September 25 -- Tuesday outside the UN there were police barricades and cement blocks; there were Sanitation Department trucks full of sand blocking access from 41st Street and a block west on Second Avenue. There was a tent and sandwich truck run by the NYPD Detectives' Endowment Association, with bananas and coffee and bagels in brown paper bags. Police and Coast Guard boat patrolled the blue East River; helicopters swirled overhead. Inside the UN staff had come in early, before the slated lock-down of the building for George Bush. [On Cuba's walk-out during his speech, see below. For Inner City Press' piece on the UN (Foundation) invited bloggers, click here.] Journalists still bleary-eyed from cranking out stories well past Monday midnight traded tips on the coming day's action.

            "The high-level Security Council meeting is just for show, they'll vote on the Chad and Central African Republic resolution just to show they're doing something about Darfur," one said.

            "Notice that Malloch Brown won't be there," said another. "He was acting too big for his britches so they called him back to the Labor Party shindig."

            "Another add-on to global warning," snarked one wag. And so the day began.

            Many complained that the media's focus on Iran's president is both absurd and unfair to Ban and those who've prepared for this big moment. "He's the O.J. of this GA," the wag continued snarking. And he's slated to speak this morning, and do a press conference in the afternoon, which Inner City Press will attend and report on.

Ban, Ahmadinejad and potted plant

            On the true margins of this General Assembly, those who do the work of the UN threw up there hands. Inner City Press asked one if they are able to get their message out to Member States, as they are known, during the GA. "No way," the answer came. "We work with those who are here throughout the year, the Ambassadors and staffers, those who serve on the ACABQ." That would be the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, which meets in secret in the basement and decides how money's spent. So too corruption scandals, around the UN Development Program and its rebuffing the Ethics Office, seem to be put on hold. It's time for hype, a time for speeches, on which we will report. Watch this site.

  And at 9:11, Ban kicked off the proceedings, speaking in French...

And at 10:05, as Bush said the Cuban people are ready for freedom, the Cuban delegation walked out of the General Assembly. Myanmar, on the other hand, just sat there as new sanctions were announced. Ban, perhaps anticipating Bush's Burma dig which was reported in advance, mentioned that his "Special Advisor" is headed to the country, date still unknown. Inner City Press spoke briefing with this advisor, Ibrahim Gambari, in the basement Monday night. Walking with this spokesman, Gambari gave the thumbs-up sign. And now?

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Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540