October 28th, 2010
11:01 AM ET

Thursday's intriguing people

Paul Rusesabagina

One of the foremost heroes in the horror that was the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Paul Rusesabagina now stands accused of helping rebels in that country, charges he denies.

Rwanda’s general prosecutor, Martin Ngoga, says he has evidence that Rusesabagina wired money from San Antonio, Texas, to commanders of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, via banks in Congo, Tanzania and Burundi.

Ngoga said top rebel leaders in custody have confirmed the transactions, and he flatly accuses Rusesabagina of “financing terror.” The prosecutor is pushing for the U.S. to help in the investigation.

In an interview from Brussels, Belgium, the inspiration for the Oscar-nominated “Hotel Rwanda” told CNN that Ngoga is “lying with bad logic.”

A critic of President Paul Kagame, Rusesabagina says the charges are politically motivated. Ngoga insists they are not.

Rusesabagina, played by Don Cheadle in the movie, saved hundreds of people from being slaughtered by tapping his connections as a popular hotel manager.

More than 800,000 people in the central African nation were killed amid the genocide. The White House awarded Rusesabagina a Presidential Medal of Freedom for his heroism.

Ron Artest

Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest has raised many an eyebrow in the past, whether he’s announcing his new rap song or jumping into the stands to clock a fan.

But Artest recently said he’s a new man – thanks to a gifted psychologist – and he now wants to do his part to help young people with mental illnesses who can't afford counseling – a conundrum Artest says he's too familiar with.

So how is he lending a hand? By raffling off the 2010 NBA Championship ring he received Tuesday evening before the Lakers’ game against the Houston Rockets.

Tickets are $2 a pop, with a minimum purchase of five tickets.

The winner of the Christmas Day "Win My Bling" drawing – with a prize that features 16-karat gold and 16 white diamonds commemorating the franchise’s total titles – will also receive a trip for two to L.A. to see the Lakers, a two-night stay at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills and $1,000 to cover food and incidentals.

Some deep pockets have offered to buy the ring outright, but the ostensibly ex-bad boy said he wants fans to have a shot at owning it. He hopes the raffle will raise more than $1 million for his Xcel University.

The program works to “identify high-risk students and give students an incentive toward a healthy lifestyle.” Artest received the keys to the city of Las Vegas earlier this month for his work with the initiative.

Joe Patten

More commonly known around Atlanta as the “Phantom of the Fox,” Joe Patten has been fighting for weeks to stay in an apartment tucked away in the historic concert and theatrical venue.

In addition to having restored the theater’s Moller organ, Patten is credited with saving the Fox Theatre at least twice after it closed in the 1970s. First, he was instrumental in the movement to save the landmark from demolition, and in 1996, he called the fire department when a blaze broke out in the theater’s attic wing. Damage was extensive, but the Fox’s owners said it could have been worse had Patten not been on the premises.

Formerly the theater’s technical director, Patten has lived in a well-appointed 3,640-square-foot apartment since he signed a December 1979 lease. The lease is for life, and he pays no rent.

Keeping him in the apartment has become a cause du jour for many Atlantans, and Larry Platt  - of "Pants on the Ground" fame – flatly stated many of their sentiments in remarks to CNN this week: "Leave the man alone."

The Fox has expressed concerns that Patten, an 83-year-old diabetic, might prove to be a liability because of his health. The board of Atlanta Landmarks, which owns the Fox, wanted to scrap the lease and rewrite it to say Patten can live there as long as he’s able or until he needs around-the-clock care.

Patten refused to sign it, and Wednesday, a judge asked Fox’s and Patten's lawyers to work out an agreement. Patten emerged from the courthouse about 20 minutes after the agreement was struck and told reporters, “We won.”

His lawyer said the victory was not outright and noted there was nothing preventing Atlanta Landmarks from terminating the lease again.

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Filed under: Art • California • Georgia • Health • Most Intriguing People • Rwanda • Sports • Terrorism
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. gabiro Bahamariye abantu

    KAgame will face Justice one day .
    it's just a matter of time ,
    God connot allow some serial Killer to silence people we need Justice
    American people helping Kagame but I know for sure most american are wonderful people . they will bring him to justice once they find out who kagame really is

    November 2, 2010 at 12:27 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. mutoni bamuhambye muri wese

    I lost my all my family member in Rwanda in 1997
    Please Kagame am I a survivor or not ? but i am not allowed to say who killed my parents .
    you killed my mother you killed my DAd and my two younger sisters but in kinyarwanda we say ngo akabura ntikaboneke ni nyina wumuntu ,
    GOD KNOWN . and He is hearing my Tears .
    it's takes a second here to accuse innocent person
    Before it was genocide ideology no is Terrorist Idealogy
    No justice in Rwanda

    November 2, 2010 at 12:42 am | Report abuse | Reply
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