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5 May, 2010 00:15

New Yorkers scared of bomb threat, but unmoved by threat of nukes

A bomb scare in Times Square continued to dominate the news from New York even as Iran and the US faced off over the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Saturday in New York City a bomb scare forced the evacuation of Time Square. A bomb squad diffused it, but the media was ablaze with reports on the incident. On Monday, another explosive event took place across town.

"A dramatic face off at the U.N. with Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hillary Clinton taking center stage at the UN Nuclear Treaty Conference," a TV news story reported.

Officials called for another evacuation there, too.

"Some angry American leaders are calling on UN leaders to walk out during the Iranian leaders speech," a television journalist reported in her story. And representatives from the US, the UK and France did just that.

This episode is taking place at the review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The agreement is viewed as the cornersone of getting rid of nuclear weapons in the world. But by Tuesday, on the streets of the Big Apple, few were aware of the controversy going on at UN Plaza.

Do people in Times Square know what's going on at the United Nations right now?

"No idea, none at all," said Steve Bocklie, visiting from Seattle, Washington.

"Not much," said Selan Jameson, visting from London.

"No," said Michaela Cielo, a New Yorker.

Do they know what happened in Times Square on Saturday?

"Yes, yes, I've been watching the news," said Jameson.

"Yeah, some knucklehead planted a bomb and got caught the other night…I saw it on TV this morning," answered Bocklie.

Do they know what world leader was in town yesterday?

"Oh the guy from Iran, I can't pronounce his name," replied Cielo.

"He was here? I didn't know that," said Bocklie.

Now that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is gone, so are his headlines. Today on the news, local reports led with the arrest of the Times Square Bomber. 

Now attention turns back to Time Square, where a suspect tried to set off a car bomb in the heart of the city. But meanwhile at the UN, the NPT conference continues all month, with leaders from many of the 189 countries signed on to the treaty talking about solutions to what many consider one of the most pressing issues facing the world: Nuclear weapons.

"The danger of nuclear materials falling into the hands of terrorists, as well as emergence of clandestine proliferation networks and black market of nuclear materials are of major concern," Russia's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Ryabkov, said in his speech at the conference.

"The scale of [nuclear weapons'] destruction is incomparable to any crime committed throughout history," said Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"We have seen what nuclear weapons do, there's no mystery, it's really a hell beyond hell," said Clare Carter, a Buddhist nun protesting nuclear weapons with prayer and fasting outside the conference.

But which bomb story matters more to the mainstream media?

"The Time Square story has more legs than anything that wll ever happen at the UN" said Benjamin Kelly, a New Yorker. "Public policy is boring."

But what matters more to our lives, looking forward?

"Definitely nuclear bombs," said Cielo.

"Definitely getting rid of the nuclear bombs," says Jameson.

"Nuclear bombs, because they are more of a threat to the whole world," said Bocklie.

It remains to be seen if this knowledge will turn into the power activists say this cause needs..

"We have to be the solution," said Carter. "I think the Obama Adminstration will take a much stronger stance if average people stood up."