Summit diary: Past presidents leave their mark

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The Independent Online

The US President's address to the UN General Assembly is steeped in tradition, and Barack Obama is following his predecessors' footsteps in other ways, too. His digs at the Waldorf Astoria hotel have been used by presidents from Herbert Hoover on. The $7,000-a-night suite is decked out in gifts from presidents past. Ronald Reagan left a gold mirror, Jimmy Carter an inkwell, and JFK donated a rocking chair.

Battle of the First Ladies

Michelle Obama was "inspired" in her efforts to help underprivileged children gain access to education and culture by none other than Carla Bruni, aides to the French first lady have been claiming. Ms Bruni has been using her time in New York to try to tap up donors for her new charitable foundation. A member of her entourage pointed out to the French paper Le Figaro that Mrs Obama has parallel interests, but the claim that Ms Bruni was the inspiration might be pushing it. The US President's wife was fundraising for children on Chicago's south side when Ms Bruni was posing nude for photographer Michel Comte.

UN slot is a nice decoy

There was one notable no-show at yesterday's General Assembly. One of the scheduled afternoon speakers was the ousted Honduran President, Manuel Zelaya, but he is otherwise engaged – holed up in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, having smuggled himself back into the country while the coup leaders thought they were safe. Mr Zelaya's appearance on the UN agenda turns out to have been a nice little decoy.

Ahmadinejad to see green in New York

The mild-mannered committee that runs Manhattan's Empire State Building has politely declined a request to turn the skyscraper into a giant finger raised in a rude gesture against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Supporters of Iran's opposition lobbied for the building to be bathed in green light, the colour of Iran's election protests. The building chooses its after-dark lighting scheme for much less controversial reasons – such as red, white and blue for Independence Day. Happily for the Iranian dissidents, Mr Ahmadinejad's arrival coincides with the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz movie, for which the building will be bathed in... green.