Pandora

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The Independent Culture
THE SHADOW Foreign Secretary, Michael Howard, will address the Young Conservative Group for Europe next week. At a meeting in the House of Commons, Howard, a hard-line Eurosceptic, will attempt to woo this young band of Europhiles now driven delirious by the launch of the euro. "The euro has been a success so far, and it is important that we put that message across to the party," one of the organisers told Pandora. However, the message is to be delivered behind closed doors because "we don't want to hang out our dirty washing in public." So, then, might Howard face a bit of boisterous ribaldry at the meeting? "We'll have to wait and see" said the young Europhile. That's funny. Isn't that what William Hague is saying about the single currency? Perhaps there will be unity in the Tory party after all.

TOM HANKS, three times an Oscar winner, is feeling the pressure of fame. As the combined gross of his two most recent films, Saving Private Ryan and You've Got Mail, passed $200m, the star told Entertainment Weekly that: "Sometimes being a movie star in a public place is like being a man with a chicken on his head, and everyone is looking and pointing." Hanks says that the closest he can get to anonymity is to "strip down naked in a hotel room and walk around on the patio". However, if reports that Hanks is interested in running for president in the year 2000 are true, he would be advised to keep his pants on.

ONE OF the few things that is known about Bill Clinton's impeachment trial, due to start today, is that the Supreme Court Chief Justice, William Rehnquist, will be in charge. Rehnquist presided over an equally controversial, but rather less up-to-date, trial in 1996 at the Indiana University School of Law, when he found Richard III not guilty of murdering his two nephews. Rehnquist failed to find the infamous monarch guilty "beyond reasonable doubt", calling the evidence a kind of "rumor upon rumor" [sic]. The question is, of course, will Bill Clinton be shown the same clemency?

WITH THE serialisation of Paul Routledge's book on Peter Mandelson, The Mirror has gone "Mandy" mad. The legendary Mandy label, which the former Cabinet minister is said to hate so much (see Pandora of 6 October), headlined no fewer than three times in yesterday's Mirror. First, in a report about relations with Gordon Brown, then the Routledge serialisation, and of course the cartoon strip "Mandy". This "Mandy" is about the antics of young girls rather than a cartoon pastiche of Mandelson's life. A pity, because the cartoon adventures of Mandy, Weggy, Charlie and Brownie would probably spin a good yarn.

LINDA TRIPP (pictured), who may or may not be called to the Clinton trial as a witness, is in trouble with her Internet service provider, Bruce Fisher. Fisher claims that Tripp, the White House confidante of Monica Lewinsky, has reneged on a $15,000 deal to maintain her website (lindatripp.com) and clear it of unwanted messages, one of which, according to the New York Daily News, read: "Linda Tripp is so ugly, she went into a haunted house and came out with an application." Fisher received only a token payment of $1,500 and a letter of apology from Tripp and her advisers. The Hawaii based internet company is hoping to encourage Tripp to pay up by ceasing their efforts to clean up the site, "There will be nasty stuff there again, but I hope it won't be vile," says Fisher.

PANDORA SALUTES the scientists who are still trying to work out why the Titanic sank. Even after nearly 90 years rivets recovered from the wreck are still being examined. The theory that weak rivets led to an "unzipping" of the ship's hull was publicised last year and has been added to by a US government scientist, Timothy Foecke. The scientist reveals to The Washington Post that fewer compartments would have flooded if the "average strength of the rivets had been higher". Wow, such spot-on analysis is obviously unsinkable, but surely the key player must remain the rather large iceberg in the Titanic's path?

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