Manhattan magic, security blues, rebels with a hundred causes (New York Diary)

September 25th, 2008 - 11:57 am ICT by IANS  

New York, Sep 25 (IANS) As over 170 world leaders and hundreds of diplomats descended in New York for the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly, the district of Manhattan, epitomising the city’s infectious can-do spirit, morphed into a high-security fortress.Hundreds of New York Police Department (NYPD) white-and-blue cars flaunting the motto ‘Courtesy, Professionalism, Respect’, sharply dressed policemen wielding high-tech surveillance gadgets, menacing sniffer dogs and squads of secret police personnel swarmed all over, determined to ensure that this global jamboree goes without a hitch.

Entire blocks, specially the hotels which are hosting heads of state and government, have been cut off from traffic.

Hotel Waldorf Astoria - perhaps the world’s most expensive piece of real estate, where US President George W. Bush networks with visiting leaders - is strictly off limits. Traffic could be really messy and it may take more than an hour to traverse a couple of blocks which otherwise would have taken no more than five minutes.

But even as this sprightly city mounts spectacular security build-up for the UNGA, the powers-that-be in the city have ensured that it’s business as usual in the city with minimum intrusive check-ups.

New Yorkers, famed for their innate talent for blending business with pleasure, can’t resist the temptation of having a good time. Broadway is buzzing with theatre enthusiasts and Times Square is swarming with revellers, defying the gloomy talk of financial meltdown that has gripped the almighty America.

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Carnival of the oppressed

It’s carnival time for professional revolutionaries and agit-prop artists. Rebels with dime-a-dozen causes ranging from the Russian invasion of Georgia and continuing carnage in Iraq to human rights excesses and the persecution of the Falun Gong have parked themselves outside the UN Headquarters in the Turtle Bay area, shouting and singing to convert the distracted passer-by to their mission.

Dressed in colourful clothes, this bunch of cause-peddlers distribute pamphlets and try a hundred tricks to make sure that you join in this carnival of the oppressed.

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Ahmadinejad taunts Bush, rails against bullies

Surprisingly, US President George W. Bush, often the butt of diatribes of the persecuted, has tried to steal their thunder by calling on the UN to challenge tyranny and extremism. In his last speech to the UNGA Tuesday, Bush tried to pose as a revolutionary. “Like slavery and piracy, terrorism has no place in the modern world,” he said.

True to his reputation, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad played the iconoclast and railed against “bullying powers” and “murderous Zionism” in his fiery speech to the UNGA.

“The American empire in the world is reaching the end of its road,” he prophesied. Clearly, it takes all sorts to make a revolution.

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