- By Colum Lynch
Colum Lynch is Foreign Policy's award-winning U.N.-based senior diplomatic reporter. Lynch previously wrote Foreign Policy's Turtle Bay blog, for which he was awarded the 2011 National Magazine Award for best reporting in digital media. He is also a recipient of the 2013 Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial Silver Prize for his coverage of the United Nations.
Before moving to Foreign Policy, Lynch reported on diplomacy and national security for the Washington Post for more than a decade. As the Washington Post's United Nations reporter, Lynch had been involved in the paper's diplomatic coverage of crises in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, and Somalia, as well as the nuclear standoffs with Iran and North Korea. He also played a key part in the Post's diplomatic reporting on the Iraq war, the International Criminal Court, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and U.S. counterterrorism strategy. Lynch's enterprise reporting has explored the underside of international diplomacy. His investigations have uncovered a U.S. spying operation in Iraq, Dick Cheney's former company's financial links to Saddam Hussein, and documented numerous sexual misconduct and corruption scandals.
Lynch has appeared frequently on the Lehrer News Hour, MSNBC, NPR radio, and the BBC. He has also moderated public discussions on foreign policy, including interviews with Susan E. Rice, the U.S. national security advisor, Gerard Araud, France's U.N. ambassador, and other senior diplomatic leaders.
Born in Los Angeles, California, Lynch received a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1985 and a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism in 1987. He previously worked for the Boston Globe.
The Masked Avengers, the notorious Canadian radio disc jockey duo, have struck again. Their latest victim: U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
The comic team of Marc-Antoine Audette and Sebastien Trudel is best known for tricking former GOP vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, three years ago into participating in a six-minute conversation with a fake French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Yesterday, in the middle of the U.N. General Assembly session, the duo placed a call to Ban, claiming that Canadian President Stephen Harper wanted to talk to him. Ban’s staff pulled him out of a meeting to take the call.
Speaking in halting French, the fake Harper apologizes for not showing up for this week’s General Assembly debate, explaining that he had another priority to attend to: "I was combing my hair with crazy glue," he explains in French.
"Excusé moi," Ban responds, sounding confused. "Is this Prime Minister Harper speaking?" he asks in French.
"Yes, hello, Stephen Harper speaking," the fake Harper responds, speaking now in English. "How are you Mr. Secretary General?"
"How are you, how are you?" Ban answers, sounding relieved to be speaking in English. But his confusion returns when the fake Harper appeals to the world’s top diplomat to use his diplomatic skills to convince the head of the National Hockey League, Gary Bettman, to return the Quebec Nordiques (who were sold to Denver and have become the Colorado Avalanche) to Canada.
"Actually, I was calling you because the U.N. has to give the support to the return of the les Nordiques," Fake Harper explains.
"Pardon?" Ban asks.
"I was calling about the most important subject for us," Fake Harper says.
"Oh, I do not understand what you are saying," Ban says. "About what?"
"It’s about the hockey team the Quebec Nordiques you have to speak to Gary Bettman to bring them back. Now it’s a big situation."
A U.N. spokesman, Farhan Haq, confirmed that "the Secretary General did receive such a call and he very quickly realized it was a prank. He took it in the way it was intended — as a joke."
"In this week of all weeks there are so many calls coming in from all over the world and from many delegations, and it was perhaps not the best use of his time, but these things can happen," Haq said. "It’s obviously not supposed to happen and we will be listening out extra hard in future for poor French accents on the line from Canada."
In 2008, Audette posed as French President Nicolas Sarkozy and got a call through to Sarah Palin, just days before the U.S. election. Speaking in an exaggerated French accident, saying she would make a great president one day, and that he shared a passion with the governor for hunting.
"I just love killing those animals. Mmm, mmm, take away life, that is so fun," Fake Sarkozy told her.
"You know, I look forward to working with you and getting to meet you personally and your beautiful wife," Palin told Fake Sarkozy, referring to Carla Bruni. "Oh my goodness, you’ve added a lot of energy to your country with that beautiful family of yours."
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