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Live Blogging from the UN General Assembly Debate

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10:00 President Lula of Brazil trashes speculators on Wall Street for undermining world markets and explains why governments are needed to regulate the irresponsible financiers.

10:14 Bush approaches podium for his last speech to the UN. Thankfully. Bush says the UN and other multilateral organizations are "needed now more than ever." This is a far cry from how he side-stepped the UN to invade Iraq. "Bringing the terrorists to justice does not create more terrorism, it protects our people," Bush said. Here he is quite well aware that the world does not see the so-called War on Terror the same way Americans are led to believe. The world knows that war and the killing of civilians in poor nations like Iraq and Afghanistan only stirs up more hatred of America and hence more terrorism. This suits the needs of the American elite both for power and "defense" spending profits.

He actually is trying to say Afghanistan and Iraq have been turned into functioning democracies, ignoring the continued violence in those two nations.

He's calling for sanctions on Iran. It's falling on deaf ears as the world, especially Russia, won't let it happen in the Security Council where it has a veto.

Enough of Bush. I'm off to a press conference with the French president

10:37 Nicolas Sarkozy is addressing the General Assembly, speaking in vague terms about Europe needing to act to put an end to the killing in Darfur, to end terrorism and food hunger. "We can't wait to fight for a post-oil world ... to save the oceans." "To bring ethics to financial capitalism." I wonder if he would have said that before Wall Street's meltdown. It is easy and cheap to get up on the podium at the General Assembly and make these kinds of pronouncements. That's what the UN is for. To let off some steam and call for action without having to make any really concrete proposals that might bring about some sort of global consensus. Is Sarkozy proposing to send French troops into Darfur to fight the miitants on horseback slaughtering innocents?

Sarkozy is calling for a conference of world leaders to "learn the lessons of the worst financial crisis since the 1930s." Let's create a regulated capitalism, the French president is saying. But it has been Sarkozy's mission to cut back on French regulation and introduce a more American style capitalism to France. 10:00 President Lula of Brazil trashes speculators on Wall Street for undermining world markets and explains why governments are needed to regulate the irresponsible financiers.

11:00 Sarkozy is entering Room 226, the press briefing room at UN headquarters. If I'm called on, which is doubtful because the traveling French press gets most of the questions, I will challenge him about his call for regulation when he has been for deregulation, for the most part, in France.

11:10 He's explaining a G-8 format meeting on the international financial crisis but inviting also China and developing nations. He says developed countries' responsbility is greater. He wants it in November because he says things will be clearer by then. Sarkozy wants heads of state and government and regulating authorities of various countries. I wonder what Bush and Paulson will think of such a summit. More than US government intervention in business and financial markets, the Bush crowd hates even more international government intervention in American affairs.

Sarkozy is talking about markets and freedom with responsiblity. He says markets instead of dealing with production had been captured by speculators. He says it began with hedge funds, not sub-prime mortgages. So far hedge funds are not in the sites of the Treasury department and the Fed. That is a call to Washington to go after regulating the hedge funds as well.

It's encouraging to hear Sarkozy talking this way, though it does seem an about-face.
He says he supports US government actions so far but calls for EU-US cooperation. He said he had exciting talks in New York with Wall Street types and was told no one knows whose responbility. But what the people getting mega-bonuses. They are the ones who are responsible, those who got the bonuses.

We heads of government do not have the right to ignore people who have suffered from the crisis. This could have been foreseen for a long time...incredible bonsues paid with no economic basis.
11:25 He says France will work to eliminate golden parachutes. He said France could host the summit but also London, Washington or New York. Sarkozy said both the Bush and new US administrations would be welcome in November. He says it's wise American system to give two months for new president to take power. That also gives Bush two months without accountability to start a war with Iran.
On Iran Sarkozy told the press conference: I believe time is against Iran and against peace.we will wake up with a new crisis. Iran is playing with the world. Very dangerous sentiments. France seems on board for an attack if the US initiates it.

I started to ask my question over a female colleague of mine who started her question at the same time. Sarkozy told me: "Lady's first," as his lady, Carla Bruni, looking tired, sat in the front row.
So I didn't get to ask him my question, which would have been that he came to power on a platform of curbing government intervention in the French economy of trying to introduce a more American-style capitalism in France. Now he's calling for government intervention after the fall of Wall Street. Did he get it wrong?
Another reporter had asked a similar question earlier and Sarkozy said he was always against big bonuses and speculation without accountability.

11:45 McCain and Palin are no where to be seen. They have no contact with the press set up today, nor are they being shown on UN TV yet, showing her meet her world leaders. Pretty obvious, so much so that voters should see through it. She's embarrased in her ABC interview because she hasn't met any world leaders, so bring her to the General Assembly debate where she can meet dozens in a few hours. But should that really count?

5:40 pm Ahmadinejad's press conference has begun. He says humanity has come to an end of an era and will embark on a new one. Wealth power, hegemony and military strength does not make the best of man and that era is over. Now we are in the period of culture and thought. He says A-bomb and technology does not create value or any other country. He's dreaming here when he says it's all about culture and thought. This is Age of Aquarius stuff. He says in past 60 years material values has only created discrimination and tensions and insecurity. Can't argue with that. It has created larger gap of wealth among nations, Ahmadinejad says. He says nations are looking for new paths. Nations don't usually move in the same direction, except under dictatorship.

5:46 He still going on about friendship and kindness taking over from revenge and supriority and expects the media to transmit this message. There's no smoking allowed in the UN, but he's been puffing on something. He just said, it is impossible to prove what does not exist. That is the reason for this impasse. Ahmadinejad is asking for the language of force not be used. He says that it's the only country ever to use a nuclear weapon that is sabre-rattling. He says that belongs to the previous era, the one he thinks is over. Too bad he isn't right.

5:56 The next question is how Iran would respond if Israel attacked it.

He said: "The Zionist regime was created only for threats and occupation. Regime was created to terrorize and kill women and children, deny people women and food and besiege them. The threats of Zionists are not new. But they are far smaller and weaker than needed to harm Iran. But if there is a hand raised against our nation, we will be ready. This language is to cover up failures and crimes and sorrowful events of occupied territory. "

Next question is about bilateral relations with the US. The Iranian president says they are ready to deal with the US, that's its the US that doesn't want diplomatic relations. I think he's credible on this point. Iran has more to gain from recognition by the US than the Bush administration has from recognizing Iran.

He says talks between the countries should take place in the UN in front of the press that is assembled here, now in the basement conference room on 42nd Street and First Avenue.

6:01 He says the nuclear issue is resolved, everyone knows it, the rest is propaganda, but superpowers will do what they do.

A reporter has asked who has the power in Iran, the Ayatollah or the president. Ahmadinejad is not a politician for nothing, he says the people have the power. So he won't answer that question. Of course it is pretty well known that he is not in charge, certainly not of the military and foreign policy, that is reserved for the Ayatollah.

6:10 He said he is ready to speak to the presidential candidates but only in an open meeting with the press. I think he means it, but he can say it because he knows neither candidate will ever agree to that.

Good question from Al-Jazeera correspondent, that sometimes the way he supports Palestinians actually hurst their cause. Second question what he thinks of US human rights groups' criticism of Iran.

Ahmadinejad's response: Human rights organization in the US have no legal value for Iran because they speak from a political standpoint. There's less said about Abu Grahib or that government opens your mail and listens in. That's not really true, but Iran does come under generally more criticism. On Palestine he said to ask the Palenstitinans if they don't like his support for them.

He is calling for a free referendum under UN supeivision for the Palestinians to decide under what regime they want to live.

6:15 He's asked about Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project. He said he spoke with the new Pakistani president and hopes to finalize the agreement.

6:20 In response to another question he says he'll work with anyone fighting terrorism. They all say that.

6:20 He was asked about Palin saying he could start another Holocaust.

It's freedom, she can say whatever she wants it doesn't mean Iran has to respond. Anyone seeking nuclear weapons is backward. The time for the Atomic Bomb has come to an end. Whoever seeks it will lose that pursuit. We are aware of the nature of political campaigns and we don't pay attention to that.

He is now being asked by Matthew Lee, a blogger, about bloggers being arrested in Iran.

Ahmadinejad said your information about Iran's penal code is not correct. The only thing not penalized is speaking against officials. If someone infringes on the rights of others the law will respond, but criticizing officials is free. He says most Iranian newspapers are critical, in particular of him and no one is in prison for doing it. It's impossible to judge the accuracy of this answer but Iran generally does have a greater degree of freedom of debate and democracy than most Americans think.

6: 30 He's now being told that the nuclear issue is not resolved, as he prentends.

But he raises the question of what does one mean by the international community. He says the entire non-aligned movement thinks the issue is resolved, but only a few powers don't agree. Where can we turn, to the Security Council, where the US has a veto?

Iran is a big country and can manage itself quite well if they want to impose UN sanctions.

He's asked why he stopped joint talks with the US under Iraqi auspices. He says security situation in Iraq has improved. Iran has given what it can to establish security. So he's taking credit for the Iranian surge! He claims Iran didn't put an end to talks with the US over Iraqi issues.

A Pakistani journalist is asking about the US stepping up its activities in the region with more troops. Will he strategize his plans with like-minded people in the area?

He said NATO troops are expanding in Afghanistan and since then killings and illegal drug production has increased. He said Iran has historical and cultural ties with Pakistan and Afghanistan, so any harm there will hurt the whole region. He says the history of the region does not show that foreigners external troops entering Afghanistan do not leave with a proud head. The British and the Soviet Union left in defeat. There is no guarantee that NATO troops will leave feeling proud of their mission. The US is mistaken in thinking a military solution can work in the region. He says the Americans are going down with their head down and they won't listen to advice from their friends, like in Iran is giving them. They are going full speed ahead into disaster.

He's now saying the US rejected his proposal for direct New York -Teheran flights.

6:38 Would Iran consider Hezbollah arms be part of Iran's defense if Israel attacks?

As far as Zionist threats, Iran is a big country and very powerful. You have seen it on the map. The Zionist map is not in a position to create a disturbance for Iran and it has different ways of defending its interests. They know that, he said. Of course he won't reveal what kind of defense they are planning if attacked. But certainly using Hezbollah to attack Israel from the north, blocking the Straits of Hormuz to keep the oil from being shipped, and firing missiles at US ships in the Gulf all have to be considered as very likely.

The press conference ends.

7:32 Evo Morales, President of Boliva, has entered the press briefing room, which Morales has just called the "torture room." He said the diplomatic situation between the US and Bolivia are in force, even though the American ambassador's "behavior has been questioned." He said he hopes Washington will correct this behavior, which has been allegedly to help the opposition to protest violently against Morales. It's not like the US has ever done anything like that before in Latin America. He now says that there have been conspiracies before by the US. Morales calls Amb. Golberg's behavior "embarrassing" because he was promoting the division of Bolivia.

Morales says that American taxpayers' money in the form of foreign aid can not be used to fund a separatist group. He says they have documents proving this. "I know it's not the American people who are covering up these criminals, only a small group" in the US government. The US of course is denying these charges. Given the history of American involvement in "our backyard" why am I having a hard time beleiving Morales.

He has just been asked about Bolivia's relationship with Iran and his with Ahmadinejad. He said he saw freedom in Iran. "Where there is no empire there is justice," he said. Imperialism pillages natural resources. These are words that will warm the cockles of the State Department.

He said that Bolivia's good relations with Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua too amounts to an Axis for Humanity not an Axis of Evil.

He is now defending Bolivia's drug eradication program by limited the amount of coca that can be planted. This was done voluntarily he says. Militarization and forced eradication he rejects. Coca leaf is a natural product and it is not harmful, cocaine is another matter made with a chemical process. This is a point Morales continuously makes, but the idea you cannot snort a leaf doesn't sink in in some quarters. He says he believes cocaine was invented by the Spanish to weaken the indigenous people. That's the first time I heard that.

He said the pretext of fighting drugs was used to take political control. "That's over now," Morales said. Drug trafficking is a scourge on humanity but we are going to eradicate it by dialogue, not force.

US started with private companies to attack the social movement by trying to privatize water. Morales is recounting attempts on his life by the US and Washington's attempts to support right-wing groups. He says arms were transported into Bolivia on US airliners. An American blew up a building and killed two, he said. We can talk about so many operatios but we wouild like the American people to ask their goverment. USAID is used to buy local leaders, who are told there's more money if they get rid of Morales.

This long list of US attempts to overthrow him, kill him and empower right wing groups take place within a long history of such US efforts in the region. We are too bothered with Sarah's hairstyle and designer glasses right now to notice what's going on in Bolivia, what he calls a "great sense of liberation" from American Empire.

8:07 He is being asked if the collapse of Wall Street is the end of US capitalism.

He said in MIddle East the policy of the US is being defeated, as it is in Latin America. Capitalism doesn't provide solutions for humanity. The people will move ahead without leaders, they will organize and rise up. This is happening in different parts of the world. "This liberaiton movement can't be stopped," he said. Morales the American government is making the American people look bad with all these attacks and massacres.