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Bedbugs Debut At The United Nations

Bedbugs have made an appearance at the United Nations headquarters in New York. An innocuous announcement by the UN spokesperson on October 26 identified the affected area as a conference room in the secretariat building where “several chairs” have been infested.

The chairs, the spokesman emphasized, have now been removed. Some UN correspondents have been nervously inspecting their own chairs, sniffing around and wondering if this is the beginning of a larger invasion.

Thought of as practically eliminated in New York, bedbugs have made a big comeback in the last two years -- strangely coinciding with the Wall Street meltdown of 2008.

Large billboards warning of the perils of bedbugs are plastered around the city; local firms insulating beds and mattresses are thriving. The renowned Metropolitan Opera spent thousands of dollars last summer to get rid of the pests.

The UN headquarters, in an iconic glass-and-metal building on Manhattan's East Side, is in the midst of its first wholesale renovation in 60 years. Dark corners, damp basements, and hidden nooks and crannies provide ample refuge for various forms of underground urban life.

There have been occasional reports of rats, mice, and cockroaches. Bedbugs are just the newest entrants on the list.

--Nikola Krastev

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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