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The Independent Culture
Senator of the week

US Senator Strom Thurmond, who this week swore in Judge Rehnquist to preside over the Clinton trial. He is 96 years of age and, thus, the nearest thing America has to our own Queen Mother. He also has a fancy title, "President Pro-Tempore", which means he is the longest-serving senator, having been first elected in 1948. His flesh is still willing and a number of incidents testify to the enduring strength of his spirit. Only last year he challenged rival senator John Glenn's right to go aboard the space shuttle. "I always believed that if Nasa really wanted to study the effect of space travel on older Americans they should have called me". Glenn is only 77, after all.

When Strom was just 94 he faced accusations that he had fondled a woman senator in a lift. Senator Patty Murray, less than half his age at 46 and self-described as a "mom in tennis shoes", said that the older man put his arm round her while he tried to grope her breast and asked in his southern drawl "Are you married, little lady?". Ideally qualified, then, to act as a juror in the Clinton trial.

Tribute of the week

"We shall not see his like again" wrote Paul Routledge in The Mirror this week of Gordon Brown's (soon to be ex-) spin doctor Charles Whelan. "Stash him in the press bar in the Commons, where he is a tireless spinner for Labour, and he works till he drops." There are many witnesses to the intense work that Paul and indeed Charles would do in that establishment until they, the room, or both, stopped spinning.

Bird of the week

The completion of the Millennium Dome threatens one of the last nesting sites of the black redstart, Phoenicurus ochrurus, a very rare breeder. Still, what can we expect from the man now in charge, a Lord Falconer?

Lookalike of

the week

Has Peter Mandelson ever been a male model? One wonders. Note the remarkable resemblance between this, one of the Britannia Building Society's "Wallace and Gromit" style advert characters, and their most famous mortgage customer.

Image of the week

This is the Canon Picture of the Year, taken by Mike Maloney, who works for the Sunday People. It is, in fact, a "remake" of a famous shot by American legend Elliott Erwitt. No matter, though. Every dog has its day, as Strom Thurmond might say.

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