Sept. 23, 2009

United Press International
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the Clinton Global Initiative at the Sheraton Hotel in New York City on September 22, 2009. UPI/John Angelillo
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the Clinton Global Initiative at the Sheraton Hotel in New York City on September 22, 2009. UPI/John Angelillo | License Photo

U.N. General Assembly:

U.S. President Barack Obama makes his first appearance before the U.N. General Assembly.


Obama is coming off a day in which his attempts at Middle East negotiations failed to bear fruit and his talk on climate change didn't close disagreements with Europe. But Wednesday finds him in front a U.N. podium and a packed room, a situation that has served the president well in the past.

The U.S. president is expected to ask other nations to help the United States address major world problems. Excerpts of the prepared speech handed out by the White House suggest Obama will go over a litany of world problems -- terrorism, genocide, nuclear proliferation, poverty and climate change among others -- while saying the United States can't and won't solve the issues unilaterally.

He spoke Tuesday at the Clinton Global Initiative in what was considered a preview of the U.N. talk in which he said no nation can "meet these challenges alone."

Just as he did a year ago during the election campaign, his base message is that he would do things differently than George Bush did. That message should play well in the United Nations, which often bristled under Bush's criticism about U.N. inaction and then Bush would make moves before the world body was ready to do so.


Other highlights of the General Assembly stand to be an appearance Wednesday by Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Thursday's talks by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.

Britain's nuke cut:

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's speech to the U.N. General Assembly could include an announcement of a cut in the U.K. nuclear arsenal.

Brown, who also speaks Wednesday, is reportedly to say his country will reduce its fleet of Trident nuclear submarines by one to three. Other nuclear weapons, such as missiles, however, won't be touched.

He is to call for steps toward a nuclear-weapons free world via "statesmanship, not brinksmanship," advanced segments of Brown's prepared remarks indicate.

Nuclear proliferation is a central issue at the United Nations, where Iran and North Korea have been dealt international sanctions because of their nuclear programs. North Korea has carried out weapons tests while Iran says its program, less advanced than Pyongyang's, is solely for peaceful purposes.

It is developments by those countries, and others, that will keep Britain in the nuclear weapons column. In a BBC report, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said, "We reject unilateral nuclear disarmament for ourselves precisely because the world cannot end up in a situation where responsible powers get rid of their weapons, but the danger of nuclear proliferation by other powers remains."


Al-Qaida videos:

Al-Qaida released a lengthy taped message, likely to tie into the Sept. 11, 2001, anniversary and the U.N. General Assembly.

In the message, which was nearly two hours long, Ayman al-Zawahiri said the United States was hostile to Muslims and that the change in U.S. leadership from George Bush to Barack Obama didn't bring a difference in goals.

Translations of the tape indicate Zawahiri said the U.S. leadership has a "new, hypocritical face. Smiling at us, but stabbing us with the same dagger that Bush used."

He predicted, predictably, that Obama would fail.

Germany has received a series of videotapes linked to al-Qaida ahead of that country's elections Sunday. Al-Qaida has tried to influence European votes with attacks shortly before elections previously, notably in 2004 in Spain.

India satellite launch:

Indian rocket scientists carried out a launch Wednesday that placed seven satellites in orbit, including six nano satellites from other countries.

The event signals India's emergence into the commercial satellite field. Four of the satellites were from Germany while Switzerland and Turkey each had one. The other was Indian.

The successful orbiting of the satellites softens some of the disappointment after India last month lost contact with a probe India had sent to the moon.


Beatles and Brown:

There's no recession for the Beatles and author Dan Brown.

The Beatles last week released their digitally remastered record catalog and the result has been more than 2 million units sold. The band, which broke up nearly 40 years ago, has 16 entries among the Top 50 on the latest Billboard charts -- their 14 individual albums and two boxes sets.

The sales data are for the first five days after the Sept. 9 release of the compact discs.

Sales of the simultaneously released The Beatles: Rock Band game have also reportedly exceeded expectations.

On the literary side, Dan Brown's third adventure of symbologist Robert Langdon has also been a predictable success. "The Lost Symbol," which has Langdon uncovering secrets and conspiracies in Washington, sold more than 2 million copies in the first week of its release.

Brown's previous Langdon books -- "Angels & Demons" and "The Da Vinci Code" -- sold about 80 million copies.