Summit diary: Where will Gaddafi pitch up?

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Indy Politics

Muammar Gaddafi already knew he wasn't going to get a Megrahi-style welcome in New York, but the Libyan leader and his enormous security detail may have been alarmed to see a newspaper headline apparently instructing readers "How to cuff him today".

Alas, for those who love a good fracas, the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post was not inciting Gothamites to do a Peter Tatchell. There will be no citizen's arrest to bring Gaddafi to account for Libyan human rights abuses. Rather, the article was a reprint of a piece by Britain's own Geoffrey Robertson, in which he suggests Gaddafi could be arrested by the NYPD as a "co-conspirator" to atrocities in Sierra Leone.

Perhaps this possibility is exercising the Libyans. A news report suggested that, rather than staying at the Libyan mission, Gaddafi might have found somewhere to have pitched his Bedouin tent after all – having previously been turned down for a permit to stay in Central Park. ABC News said a tent is going up in the back garden of a mansion in the wealthy suburb of Bedford, just down the road from style guru Martha Stewart. Given the number of people who want Gaddafi cuffed, perhaps a little confusion over his whereabouts is judicious.

United Nations of Philanthropy

Ban Ki-moon has a rival, over on the other side of Manhattan, where Bill Clinton yesterday assembled his "United Nations of Philanthropy" at the Sheraton hotel, for the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative. The good works debate fest boasts 60 current and former heads of state, as well as the leaders of multinational firms, who will discuss poverty and hunger, as well as the effects of the financial crisis on poorer nations. Also on the guest list: Matt Damon, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore. No doubt they will be Twittering.

Gridlock grumbles from New Yorkers

When the UN circus comes to town, New Yorkers can often find themselves trapped on a street corner for anything up to 20 minutes, while convoys of world leaders sail past with their police escorts.

This time round, there is no escape from the heavy police presence by darting underground, since subways and train stations across the country are on an increased alert for terror threats. Warnings went out at the start of the week that transit systems, stadiums and hotels could be at risk, and one alert specifically mentioned Grand Central Station, just a few blocks from the UN.

These alerts are routine, of course, but the authorities are a little more nervous since the arrest in New York last week of Najibullah Zazi, a Denver man who is accused of plotting a hydrogen peroxide bomb attack.

We're screwed

Even as Barack Obama rose to give his global warming speech, the New York Post was apparently declaring, on the front page, "We're screwed". Except it wasn't. The 32-page issue is a fake, quickly becoming a collector's item. It predicts the city could face heat waves, extreme flooding, and other lethal effects of global warming – headlines all taken from an official report.

"This could be, and should be, a real New York Post," said Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men, the campaign group which amassed 2,000 volunteers to give out the papers. "Climate change is the biggest threat civilisation has ever faced, and it should be in the headlines of every paper, every day."

Spin, junta style

Burma says its prime minister, General Thein Sein, will attend the UN General Assembly, the highest junta official to make the trip in 14 years. The regime is spinning the trip as a chance to explain to world diplomats that elections planned there next year are not the sham their critics claim. Following the visit of a US senator, Jim Webb, to Myanmar last month, the generals are optimistic US policy may defrost. From US officials, a pretty clear response. No.

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