Featured Content, G8 Online Summit Diary
Thursday, June 10, 2004
The first thing that struck me, literally, upon our arrival in Savannah was the heat. Exiting the air-conditioned cabin of the Boeing on to the Savannah tarmac was like stepping into one of the worst days of an Ontario August; the sun shone down hotly through heavily misted clouds and a cloying humidity slowly sapped away our energy. I wondered how anyone could work on a day like this, the weather being much more suited to sitting on a covered verandah somewhere wearing a white suit with a red bow tie, sipping a mint julip and discussing cotton prices. They say that the most important invention for helping the economy of the Southern United States was the cotton gin; surely the second most important was the air-conditioner.
The second thing that I noticed, and it was hard not to notice, about a Savannah girding its' loins for the G8 meeting was the security. Recent predictions of terrorist attacks and an already security conscious state (of both mind and political organization) ensured that the American military was out in force to guard the summit. The stately and historic downtown core of Savannah, normally packed with tourists and pedestrians, was deserted; a place where a tumble weed blowing down the main street would not have been out of place. It was ironic that while flocks of media had descended from around the world to file their stories on what the eight most powerful men in the world would decide, the host city itself was reduced to a virtual ghost town. Well, not entirely a ghost town. Humvees packed with uniformed soldiers slowly prowled the streets like big tan cats in search of prey while helicopters drifted listlessly overhead and heavily armed police from a multiplicity of agencies guarded each street corner, fingering their automatic rifles and eyeing all passers-by with a mixture of suspicion and machsimo. If the security leading up the summit was any indication, an interesting few days lay ahead.
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