Pandora

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The Independent Culture
NOW THAT Lord Falconer has taken control of the Millennium Dome, the project's environmentalist critics find themselves facing a familiar - and formidable - opponent. Once described as a "left-wing Tory" by a Labour MP, Falconer was a high-flying lawyer, said to earn pounds 500,000 a year, who first met Tony Blair when they were schoolboys in Edinburgh and who later shared a Wandsworth house with the future Prime Minister. Greenpeace, who are vociferous critics of the Dome's HFC-cooled air-conditioning system, remember Charles Falconer from his days when he advised the arch- foe British Nuclear Fuels. Unfortunately, when Pandora rang Lord Melchett, the head of Greenpeace, yesterday to solicit his reaction to Falconer's new Dome responsibilities, the noble environmentalist was out of the office nursing an injured knee. Hopefully, he will mend soon and return to share his views on Falconer.

TWO OF the Internet's greatest claims to fame are about to combine to create yet another unprecedented cyber-event. The Net's infinite supply of pornography and its most famous journalistic scoop (the Web gossip columnist Matt Drudge's breaking of the Monica Lewinsky story) will soon join up when something called Primal Entertainment launches a "live re- enactment of the Starr Report" featuring "performers depicting the intimate encounters between the President and Monica Lewinsky". It won't be free, however, but only available to adults who "purchase tickets with a major credit card". The porn star Ron Jeremy has been engaged both to direct and star as Bill Clinton in this most inappropriate of all broadcasts, set for 25 January. Well, it had to happen, didn't it?

AN ARTICLE appeared in the Daily Mail yesterday by "leading left-wing commentator" Melanie Phillips. This billing must have raised eyebrows all over the country, for Phillips has not exactly established herself as a bright star in this country's leftist firmament. In 1997, for example, she gave a lecture to the Centre for Policy Studies in which she attacked modern liberalism for its emphasis on personal freedom and individual rights, warning New Labour "to rein back individualism through restoration of true liberal constraints". Left wing, yes, but according to a late- 18th-century definition. As for Melanie's view on the current hospital crisis, yesterday's article proclaims: "the modern nurse often considers it beneath her to make sure that an elderly patient who can barely move is comfortable on her pillows, or that her hair is washed." This haughty indictment of an entire beleaguered profession is radical all right, but leftist?

READERS KEEN to purchase a new brand of scent provocatively called "Viagra" had better go surfing as soon as possible. The dubious perfume is for sale only over the Internet, but the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, manufacturer of the male rejuvenation miracle drug, is bringing a suit against a firm called Park Plaza Fragrances which, presumably, is a specialist in the techniques of the hard smell.

SOME FIERCE charges against the European Commissioner Edith Cresson are being lodged by an Irish MEP, Nuala Ahern of the Leinster Green Party, in connection with the ongoing Brussels funding controversy. But none so ferocious as her charge, in a press release obtained by Pandora, that Mme Cresson receives "private astrology forecasts" from a long-time friend, Rene Berthelot, a dentist, who has been appointed to co-ordinate the EU's Aids research efforts. Shades of Nancy Reagan, who used to consult her astrologer before advising her husband Ronnie on his schedule! Pandora looks forward to the promulgation of an effective cross-border horoscope- monitoring authority.

"IT WAS genuinely hilarious," the unnamed source told yesterday's New York Post about a reported sighting of the most personal asset of Ewan McGregor (pictured) at the Versace menswear show in Milan. "The people who got the best view were laughing the hardest." Apparently those people were sitting directly across the catwalk from McGregor's first-row seat when he unzipped and flashed his light sabre for a brief instant. The Trainspotting star is soon to debut as Obi-Wan Kenobi in George Lucas's long-awaited prequel to Star Wars. "People were chattering, but this kind of shuts you up. It's the kind of thing you're not expecting," said the source. Quite.

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