Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
It happens every year. When the U.S. president arrives at the United Nations for the General Assembly’s annual gathering of world leaders, the east side of midtown Manhattan goes into lockdown mode. You can’t cross the streets before he arrives and until well after the most powerful man in the world has safely arrived inside the headquarters of world diplomacy.
President Barack Obama was a little late this year and unable to keep his prestigious spot as the second speaker in the annual marathon of speeches. When Obama failed to show, the Swiss president of the General Assembly Joseph Deiss announced that the president of his homeland, Doris Leuthard, would take Obama’s place and give Switzerland’s address.
Deiss assured the delegations from the United Nations’ 192 members that this was not because the Swiss had ambitions of becoming a world power, but in order to keep things moving. Of course, Leuthard enjoyed a standing-room only audience at the assembly hall, a rare opportunity for the small but wealthy Alpine nation.
After Leuthard finished, Obama stepped up to the iconic dark green podium. Wearing a dark suit and a U.N.-blue tie, he paid homage to the 65-year world organization.
There was an interesting echo at the White House when President Barack Obama came out in favour of the proposed Cordoba House Muslim cultural centre near the site of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York (see our news report here). Controversy about the project, which opponents call the "Ground Zero mosque," has been swirling in New York for weeks and went national recently when Republicans Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich joined the critics' campaign. But until the annual Iftar dinner he hosted on Friday evening, the president had kept out of what his spokesman called "a matter for New York City and the local community to decide.” (Photo: President Obama addresses White House Iftar meal, 13 August 2010/Jason Reed)
Reading his comments, it looks like Obama not only let NYC authorities decide the issue -- favourably for the project, as it turned out, as both the local community board and the landmarks commission voted overwhelmingly to let it go ahead. He may also have taken pointers for his speech from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has stood solidly behind the project despite all the emotion it has stirred up.
from Pakistan: Now or Never?:
The failed car bomb attack on New York's Times Square this weekend is almost certain to rekindle questions about a "jihadi highway" where citizens of western countries, often radicalised at home, seek either inspiration or training from one of many militant groups based in Pakistan.
According to a U.S. law enforcement source, Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American arrested on suspicion of driving the car into Times Square this weekend, told authorities he was acting alone. But investigators are also looking into a recent trip he made to Pakistan to see if he had links to Islamist militants based there, which include al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban and a host of Punjab-based groups and splinter organisations, some originally linked to the fight against India in Kashmir.
The Reuters bureau in Times Square has a striking view of the Hudson River and New Jersey, but on Thursday the scenery became an afterthought, as a US Airways jet splashed down in the frigid waters right before our eyes.
“I was on the phone when I saw a big splash in the middle of the river and realized it was a plane,” said Reuters correspondent Scott DiSavino. “I put the phone down and yelled, ‘Hey, a plane just crashed into the Hudson River!’”