Features

The undiplomat

Human Race | New French foreign minister favors engagement and confrontation

Issue: "Preach it," Oct. 6, 2007

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has a sharp tongue, and he's not afraid to use it. The physician, who founded Doctors Without Borders in 1971, said that when it comes to Iran, better "prepare for the worst." And the worst? "It's war." Kouchner predictably got heckled when he spoke at Washington's Capitol Hilton late last month. When several women yelled, "No war with Iran," he shouted back, "But I agree, stupid!" Engaging his anti-war critics later, he peeled off his glasses, strode away from the lectern, and and gestured with his hands.

"What do you propose we do?" he asked one protester.

"Dialogue without sanctions," she answered.

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Kouchner laughed: "That's been done."

Here's your hat-what's your hurry?

Ahmadinejad gets all dressed up with nowhere to go

How much can one man do when his visa restricts him to within a 25-mile radius of New York City? Enough, if you are Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Attending the UN's annual general session and decked in his perennially rumpled gray suit and tie-less white dress shirt, the Iranian leader made press rounds like a senator on Sunday morning. Then keeping to Manhattan, he spoke via teleconference to the National Press Club in Washington Sept. 24. That same day he made his controversial appearance at Columbia University. School president Lee Bollinger symbolically showed Ahmadinejad the door before he began, calling him in introductory remarks a "petty and cruel dictator" and "either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated."

Ahmadinejad complained about the "wave of insults" in the introduction but ignored Bollinger's questions about his Holocaust denial, support for terrorism, and disregard for human rights. Under the circumstances he might have asked Bollinger why he agreed to allow an Islamic dictator on campus while he has barred an ROTC chapter.

Close-ups

MAN KNOWS NOT HIS TIME: Rex Humbard, Arkansas-born guitar-picking Pentecostal preacher and pioneer in religious television in the 1950s, died Sept. 21 of natural causes at a hospital near his home in Lantana, Fla.; he was 88. His TV sermons were aired on nearly 400 U.S. and Canadian stations and hundreds more internationally from 1953 to 1999, mostly from the 5,400-seat Cathedral of Tomorrow in suburban Akron, Ohio. He was a friend of Elvis Presley and preached at his funeral in 1977. He also hobnobbed with Jimmy Hoffa, whose Teamsters Union pension fund loans helped to finance mounting ministry debt. Humbard was forced to sell a college he started in Michigan and other properties; the Cathedral languished and was sold to fellow televangelist Ernest Angley in 1994.

CRIME: Jurors rejected the defense attorney's argument that the prosecution of polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs, head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was religious persecution. They convicted him Sept. 25 as an accomplice to rape for forcing a 14-year-old follower to marry her 19-year-old cousin.

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