United Nations: Red, Green or Yellow

Throughout the summer and fall, the great blue-and-white General Assembly hall had been under the rule of the jackhammer. The semicircular rows of gleaming oaken desks had to be rearranged to make room for the U.N.'s population explosion: 115 members this year, v. 99 in 1960 and 51 at the founding. To pare down the time it takes for all of the delegations to vote, the desks were fitted out with buttons connected to a pair of large electronic boards beside the podium—green lights will flash on for aye, red for nay, yellow for abstention.

If the decor has changed,...

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