PEOPLE : After war, a conflict of honours

Click to follow
King Hussein of Jordan has long had a reputation for deft footwork in the political minefields of the Middle East. His evident skill was rewarded again this week, with two peace prizes. The organisations presenting them, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and the Friends of Waldheim Institute, may not, however, be at total peace with each other.

The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre is named for a Jewish man who has devoted his life to tracking down Nazi war criminals. The Friends of Waldheim Institute, an Austrian organisation, was named for the former UN secretary-general who concealed facts about his past as a German army officer in the Second World War.

The King, who has signed a peace treaty with Israel, met a Wiesenthal Centre delegation on Tuesday. He accepted an invitation to visit its Museum of Tolerance and receive its award for "work in favour of tolerance and peace".

He was due to pick up his Waldheim prize "for the solution of conflict" at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna today, but phoned Kurt Waldheim to say he was ill and wished to postpone the ceremony. The Waldheim Institute peace prize was set up in 1992, after Mr Waldheim left office as President of Austria.

The organisations have not commented on each other's honours. King Hussein is the first head of a Muslim Arab state to receive either one.

r r r

The whole world sees her on television, leading the prosecution team in the O J Simpson case. But do Marcia Clark's children see much of her? Her estranged husband does not think so, and has filed for custody of the boys, age 3 and 5.

"I have personal knowledge that on most nights she does not arrive home until 10pm and even when she is home, she is working," Gordon Clark said in court papers. "While I commend Marcia Clark's brilliance, her legal ability and her tremendous competence as an attorney,'' he added, ``I do not want our children to continue to suffer because she is never home, and never has any time to spend with them."

Ms Clark said last week she could not attend an evening session because she had to care for her children. Johnnie Cochran, Mr Simpson's lead attorney, suggested she had used child care as a ruse to delay testimony by Mr Simpson's only alibi witness. Ms Clark said she was "offended as a woman, as a single parent, as a prosecutor and as an officer of the court".

r r r

Morarji Desai, the world's oldest living former prime minister, marked the start of his 100th year this week with prayers for a longer life.

He was prime minister of India from 1977 to 1980, leading the non-Congress party government that took over in the backlash against Indira Gandhi's emergency rule. Since leaving office, he has lived quietly in Bombay's plush Nariman Point district.

With a clear voice and a firm handshake, Mr Desai is well, though his legs are weak. He is still committed to a Gandhian philosophy and remains a health food devotee. Since 1977, he has not varied his daily diet, which consists of two litres of milk with honey, fruit, coconut water, steamed carrots, bitter gourd and cottage cheese.

Are self-reliance and diet his longevity secret? Perhaps. But, it could be argued that he is barely 24 years old. Mr Desai was born a leap year baby on 29 February, 1896.