Google Earth is about to cost the U.S. Navy $600,000. Some intrepid Googlers discovered recently that a Navy base in southern California bears a striking resemblance to a swastika from the air. Apparently, no one noticed that the four-building complex, built in the late 1960s, looks like the offensive symbol from above until early last year. Local residents have lobbied the Navy for action ever since, and therefore the Navy has decided to drop $600K on landscaping and architectural alterations in order to camouflage the shape. At which point, it will look like ... a swastika covered in expensive shrubbery.
Yesterday was my last day reporting from the United Nations. With all of the focus on Ahmadinejadapalooza (more on that later), I didn't get a chance to mention one of the aspects of President Bush's speech that set some tongues a-clucking. Tim Wirth, who heads the U.N. Foundation, had this to say:
This morning, President Bush admonished the UN to ‘live up to its promise to promptly deploy peacekeeping forces to Darfur.’ However, the Administration has requested funding for only 20% of its share of the Darfur mission, and is heading towards a debt of more than $1 billion for UN peacekeeping overall. It is impossible for the UN to ‘live up to its promise’ to deploy peacekeepers to Darfur if nations like the United States fail to pay for the peacekeeping missions that they vote for in the Security Council.
Today, I'm at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers for the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)—and boy, is it good to be here. For all of the great things about the U.N., the place has a creepy, "New Tomorrowland" feel to it (not to mention the asbestos problem). And with 2,000 members of the press and I don't know how many delegates, the bewildering, maze-like complex of buildings is a zoo. Everywhere you go, there are internal security checkpoints. If your badge is the wrong color, you can forget about gaining access. CGI, based in a modern hotel with no asbestos, operates on a much more human scale, and the staff here bends over backwards to be helpful. I expect the sessions to be much more free-wheeling and interesting, in contrast to the staid official-speak of the U.N. Plus, the wireless actually works and there's free coffee, the fuel that powers the world's journalists. Expect more energetic posts from me today and tomorrow.