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Bill Clinton on trial Sale of Manchester United Russia's new prime minister Royal Opera House Akira Kurosawa
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Can anything save him now?

BILL CLINTON ON TRIAL

Los Angeles Times

United States

THOSE WHO will sit in judgement on Clinton and who believe that his conduct has disgraced the presidency must take care that their own anger or zeal for political gain does not disgrace Congress. Impeachment is an ill-defined process. This messy and dispiriting matter seems destined to remain unresolved for months. Meanwhile, the insistent day-to-day demands of governance - and of global leadership - will continue to face a preoccupied president and his demoralised administration.

Sydney Morning Herald

Australia

THE SORDID details in the report - said to include Mr Clinton's alleged attempt to help Ms Monica Lewinsky find jobs, and his appreciation for sexual tricks with cigars - will be like rubbing shards of glass into people's faces. No one will be able to ignore that, and Congress will want to take action. The only question is what action to take. Censure, impeachment proceedings and increasing pressure to resign are all possible. Mr Clinton is in for the fight of his life just to remain in a much-diminished Oval Office.

Washington Post

United States

IN A sense, it is the public, not Congress, that now needs to reach a judgment as to the President's conduct - not just what he did, but what then to do about it. Mr Clinton will have to address more fully the substance of the allegations against him. If he continues to refuse to say more about allegations that he lied and obstructed justice, as well as the rest of his behaviour, he will cede the factual discussion of these issues to what Mr Starr's office has described as its "substantial and credible" evidence of potentially impeachable conduct. The handling of and response to Mr Starr's report will test the responsibility of all parties involved in this matter. But at least they can now begin.

New York Times

United States

CLINTON MUST produce a mammoth political effort to secure the forgiveness that he could have had with ease, if he had told the truth on the day last January when he wagged his finger at the American people and denied having sex "with that woman, Miss Lewinsky".

At this portentous moment, this president, who has had so much trouble with the truth, did produce one sentence of indisputable veracity: "I have no one to blame but myself for my self-inflicted wounds."

Le Figaro

France

BILL CLINTON is only just beginning to appreciate the scale of the catastrophe opening up before him. And as for his newest strategy of continually asking forgiveness - could this really save him? In any case, realisation has dawned a little too late in the day. The Americans were ready to forgive him almost anything, but will not accept that the price to be paid would be the prestige of their institutions. We are willing to bet that American democracy will emerge strengthened by the test. Only a miracle would permit Clinton to be praised as the architect of the strengthening.

The Denver Post

United States

THE WEEKS ahead are sure to be unpleasant for Clinton - and the nation he has so poorly served. He has already earned the dubious distinction of being only the third US president in history to face a serious possibility of impeachment. President Clinton should spare himself, his family and the nation this ordeal by resigning from an office he can no longer effectively discharge. Failing such a merciful deliverance, we can only echo the words spoken on Wednesday by the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which will weigh Starr's report: "This is an exercise in individual conscience, and we ask for God's help and blessing."

Washington Times

United States

THE PROCESS of even considering impeachment is grave and consequential, so much so that it is unwise to add to the trauma by fuelling cynicism and suspicion. The antidote to cynicism and suspicion is fresh air and sunlight, which can only get in if the boxes are cracked open.

The public needs to have the evidence before them so that they can hold lawmakers accountable. Making the Starr report available in toto is the only way to ensure that the battles that are to come are fought fairly.

SALE OF MANCHESTER UNITED

British views on the takeover of Manchester United by Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB satellite television company

The New Statesman

MR MURDOCH has too much power over too many things, but the damage has been done, and all we can do is await the day his empire crumbles (probably after his death), as such empires eventually always do. In the meantime, those who fear for the fate of Manchester United should ponder an old lesson: never think you can ignore excessive, unaccountable power because it only affects other people; sooner or later, it will affect you.

The Mirror

SOMEONE IS not telling the whole truth about Rupert Murdoch and Manchester United. Either his spokesman has got it wrong or his mouthpiece, The Sun, is playing with the truth. His spokesman says Mr Murdoch was not involved in the deal, which sees the takeover of United by BSkyB. But The Sun reported that its boss was so involved that he threatened to pull out of the deal if it was not signed quickly. But the villainy is not all on one side. United's current boss, Martin Edwards, has proved to be no champion of the fans who backed his team with their loyalty and hard-earned money. The bosses on both sides of the deal showed yesterday why it should not be allowed to go through. It is up to Peter Mandelson, the Trade Secretary, to stop it.

The Sun

PEOPLE WHO really know sport acknowledge that Murdoch's companies have revolutionised TV coverage all over the world. Sports teams with worldwide reach like Man Utd, the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Dodgers are becoming so valuable because of the sports professionals who work with Murdoch - not despite them. There is a big world out there. It's a pity our rivals prefer not to look at it. Anyone who thinks The Sun will now be biased in favour of Manchester United is either brain dead ... or the jealous editor of a rival paper. Or both.

Yorkshire Post

FOR THE passion and the spectacle to survive, the fans still need to be able to believe, however distantly, in the possibility of promotion, giant-killing glory, cup triumph or Euro-qualification. Mr Murdoch, however, seeks a no-lose guarantee for his investments, and it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that his arrival at England's biggest club would trample upon far more dreams than it could create. The Red Devils, then, may be about to gain the world, but in the process they might just have sold what is left of football's soul. (Andrew Norfolk)

The Scotsman

MR MURDOCH'S move for Manchester United poses inescapable problems for Mr Blair and Mr Mandelson. The bid, because of its size, automatically falls first under the remit of the Office of Fair Trading, and, because of Britain's competition laws, thereafter it falls effectively under the remit of Mr Mandelson. If the bid is allowed to proceed, he will be accused, however unfairly, of bowing to the wishes of Mr Murdoch. If it is blocked, he will be accused of allowing anti-Murdoch hysteria to get in the way of what is a perfectly sensible (if expensive) commercial proposition.

The Birmingham Post

NOBODY OUTSIDE News Corp has a good world for the Digger, mainly because he's their commercial rival. It could be said that the newspaper price cuts are the workings of the free market, and the success of BSkyB is just reward for entrepreneurial risk-taking. But don't forget, his company somehow manages to pay next to no tax in this country, while making and breaking Governments, undermining the Royal Family and turning sport into big business. The Murdoch effect on Britain is pernicious and will do lasting damage. One day, a strong government will have to say he's gone far enough. It might even win them votes. (Nigel Hastilow)

RUSSIA'S NEW PRIME MINISTER

Opinion about how Yevgeny Primakov's appointment as the new prime minister of Russia will effect that country's economic crisis

Hong Kong Standard

CAN MR Primakov save the day, for both Mr Yeltsin and Russia? He is internationally known and respected, he has restored some of Russia's former influence on the world stage, and kept generally clear of domestic political manipulations. But Mr Primakov's expertise does not lie in the area that Russia immediately needs to rebuild the country. What Moscow needs urgently is a tough economic tsar who is ready to do the unpopular. That might be too late now. The general public mood in Russia might not allow such hard-headed economic decisions, without which Western financial help might not be forthcoming.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA

Russia

PRIMAKOV BECAME the symbol of consensus, which both the President, the Duma and regional leaders sought to achieve during the past three weeks. Nothing is known, however, about what the would-be prime minister thinks about economic problems. Previously, the president was a cover for the man who managed the economy. Now, however, Primakov becomes a political mediator between the head of state and the man who will manage the economy. Obviously, the purpose of this complex structure is to prevent early presidential elections.

THE ROYAL OPERA HOUSE

Comment on the decision of the Royal Opera to suspend performances for eleven months

The Evening Standard

THE ROYAL Opera House has yet again taken money and failed to account for its expenditure. This is continuing gross financial ineptitude which makes it harder to justify substantial state subsidy of opera and plays straight into the hands of the philistines and "Cool Britannia" enthusiasts who call for the privatisation of the House because of its snobbery and elitism.

The Times

SIR COLIN'S determination that this chaotic but artistically brilliant company should start life in its new theatre with a clean sheet, managerial as well as financial, is reason enough for the staff to meet his challenge. But it is not the only one; the long overdue changes he demands are essential if the ROH is to fulfil its potential to enrich the nation's cultural life.

The Daily Telegraph

IN RETURN for bailing out the Royal Opera House again, the Government must insist on a firm five-year commitment to replace an increasing proportion of its subsidy with private sponsorship and commercial receipts. If the ROH subsequently fails to live within its means, then it will be high time to call in the receivers. They could hardly make a bigger hash of running it.

The Guardian

IF YESTERDAY'S umpteenth rescue package for the ROH leads to the denouement of this embarrassing saga, then everyone will rejoice. But such is the managerial incompetence there in the last few years that few people will believe in a happy ending until they see it for themselves. The ROH is the architect of its own misfortune. Its future is now in its hands.

THE DEATH OF AKIRA KUROSAWA

Tributes to the life and work of the great and influential Japanese film maker, who died last Sunday

Le Monde

France

TOWARDS THE end of his life, his peers started calling him "The Emperor". It was a mark of respect not entirely without irony, as he was a director who, for a long time in Japan, was not well loved and was most certainly misunderstood. The rest of the world, however, recognised his genius and, thanks to him, discovered the existence of Japanese cinema. It was the expressive strength of his images which offered a synthesis between traditional Japanese forms of representation and those of the Western world. This imbued his work with a powerful lyricism. Where this magic of form and a hope for humanity meet, there lies the genius of Akira Kurosawa.

Asahi Shimbun

Japan

WE CAN compare his desperation to get to the studio each morning with the inability a child might have to sleep the evening before a long-awaited excursion. He was an extraordinary genius who had, first and foremost, a profound love for the cinema. However, the cinematic industry in Japan refused to reciprocate this love. He was never allowed the means to push his talent to its optimum. He spent his whole life struggling against all that was wrong with the Japanese cinematographic industry.

The Japan Times

THE DEATH of film director Akira Kurosawa last Sunday inspired a wave of panegyric, both in his native country and abroad. This is only fitting, since Kurosawa was one of the brightest stars in Japan's, indeed the world's, artistic firmament. The convention of speaking well of the dead is worth honouring - across the board. For the darker, crueller, sadder side of life, we can look not to the obituary pages, but to the towering works of some of those, like Kurosawa, memorialized there.

MISCELLANEOUS

Stories from around the world

St Petersburg Times

Florida, US

NOW COME the higher minds at Carnegie Mellon University with the news that people on the Internet are lonely and depressed. That is no revelation. Sad and lonely people are why the Internet exists. These are the same people, after all, who held an online chat with Koko the gorilla. Millions use the Net as TV on-demand, or as a stalking ground for simulated sex. It is axiomatic that cruising the Net leaves people less time to socialize or coach youth sports. People have only so many hours a day to be distracted and depressed. Is it any wonder, what with Internet gambling and Baywatch on the Web, that Americans are holding fewer dinner parties, voting less and skipping church? Researchers now will examine whether watching TV has the same effect.

Okinawa Times

Japan

THERE IS now a new system available for selling beer through vending machines on Okinawa. The system will verify the age of a potential buyer by checking one's driving licence, so that alcohol can be sold during the night time, but it will prohibit sales to those who are under age. The buyer inserts their driving licence for the machine to read the date of birth. If you're old enough, money can be inserted to get a cool beer. Of course, if teenagers use their fathers' licences, it is possible for them to get the beer.

The Times of India

WHEN WOMEN are fertile, they find that ugly men smell better than handsome ones. Without consciously thinking about it, they know that an ugly partner is unlikely to run away with another woman. He will almost certainly help to bring up the offspring. Their theory must be going wrong where people wash too often or are too quick to take showers. Hygiene could well be the cause of many divorces. Women's pheromones are much more personal and have a greater effect than the most exotic perfumes. Someone, somewhere has the right pheromones for you. You only have to smell your way to them.

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