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Bobbleheads would mark summit with 'Burgh brand

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Friday, July 31, 2009

An opportunity this golden shouldn't be squandered.

You've probably heard about the G-20 international economic summit coming to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in September. This is a big deal that has no local precedent.

To put it in an easily understandable sports context — always a good idea in this town — this is the high-stakes global finance equivalent of landing the U.S. Open.

Unlike the Open, however, the G-20 appears to lack the key ingredient that serves as the most accurate barometer of any event's true significance.

That's right: Souvenir merchandise.

When Oakmont hosted the U.S. Open in 2007, online collectibles were available well in advance of the golf tournament. The on-site souvenir tent was the size of an aircraft hangar.

Peruse the various G-20 Web sites, however, and you will find nothing for sale that would look good on your mantel.

City and county officials have yet to disclose the location of a summit souvenir tent, or confirm if there even will be one.

They apparently are concentrating on what some might consider less important matters, such as attempting to guarantee the safety of scores of foreign dignitaries.

This goes against everything for which the G-20 is supposed to stand for. Wouldn't the sale of summit souvenirs provide a modest boost to the global economy?

With nearly two months to go before the summit, there remains an opportunity to cash in on this prestigious event. But conference organizers quickly will have to start producing:

Official G-20 souvenir programs

These babies should list the active rosters and backgrounds of all G-20 delegations, as well as their respective coaching staffs.

They should feature gripping action photos of previous summits involving a bunch of guys in suits sitting around large conference tables.

(In economics, "gripping" and "action" can be brutally relative terms.)

• Official G-20 T-shirts

The shirts should have "Pittsburgh '09" stitched above the breast pocket and be emblazoned with the official G-20 logo — a fist tightly grasping many bills of an unspecified currency. Printed underneath the logo in large capital letters should be this summit's theme: "ENHANCE YOUR FINANCE, DOG."

• Official G-20 bobblehead dolls

Sure, they probably won't bring in as much on eBay as the bobblehead likeness of former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. But you probably could get a handsome return on the bobblehead dolls of Chinese Finance Minister Xie Xuren, Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin and Saudi Central Bank Governor Muhammad al-Jasser.

• Official G-20 tear gas canisters

Stamped with the official G-20 logo, these commemorative canisters one day could aid summit protesters in fondly recalling how law enforcement officials gently dissuaded them from congregating boisterously near the convention center.

Related item: Official G-20 rubber billy club.

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