Pandora

PANDORA'S SPLASH of Shame today buckets Exxon. The transnational energy corporation's tanker Exxon Valdez dumped 11 million gallons of oil in 1989 off the Alaskan coast. Of the 25 wildlife species affected by the spill, just two have fully recovered. In 1994, US federal judges ordered Exxon to pay $5bn in punitive damages. Five years later, Exxon has handed over zero, and the corporation has made an estimated $5bn more by re-investing the fine. Smart Exxon shareholders are on notice to tell their officers to pay up. Nature demands it.

CRIME TIME. Peter Knox was working in his third-floor Temple chambers when he saw a figure chasing two men outside. In hot pursuit, and full voice, was Charles Flint QC, crying "Robbery!" Knox noticed cash flying from the robbers' rucksack - free money in Fleet Street. Knox sped down three flights of stairs (the lift was out of order) and jumped on his bike after one of the villains. Over Blackfriars Bridge, Knox spotted a cop car, flagged it down- and left the gendarmerie to make the collar. The blaggers had a new spin on carpet-bagging; the duo had just held-up Bradford & Bingley Building Society in Fleet Street. It's refreshing to report lawyers behaving as public citizens and, rather than filling their boots, returning others' money to its rightful owners. But how come Knox doesn't lock his bicycle?

SMOKING MAMA. First it was the animal ethics row about "squish videos" (Hamster + stiletto = squish). Now a disturbing new flavour is emerging from fetishism's bizarre backwaters. You've Come A Long Way Baby is 62 silent minutes showing an attractive, heavily made-up, lingerie-modelling blonde chain-smoking ultra-long tabs. Then she caresses her belly: she's pregnant. Heavily pregnant. Pandora finds this quite twisted, and can only hope "Baby Doll's" bambino will breathe easier when it eventually discovers the sacrifices Mama made on their behalf.

VINNIE JONES was a no-show for some tie-award ceremony at the London's Carlton Hyatt on Friday. Pandora never took Vinnie for a big tie guy; so what's the SP on this hot Hollywood role he had to fly off to audition for?

THE SUN never sets on Tony Blair. Dubbed "the most dangerous man in Europe" by the paper last June, Blair is now "a giant of the free world". He's about to present us with a victory, according to political editor Trevor Kavanagh, that "will transcend even Margaret Thatcher's triumph in the Falklands". Our No 1 guy is no stranger to the whiplash caprice of the newspaper with 40 faces. While still in shadow mode he told the 1995 Labour Conference: "Last year it was Bambi, this year it was Stalin. From Disneyland to dictatorship in 12 short months." No change there, then.

IT'S A date. We call the 1950s "the Fifties", so it follows the 1990s are "the Nineties". But what do we call the 2000s? "The Zeroes"? "The Two Thousands"? Pandora likes Marilyn Vos Savant's suggestion: "The Hundreds." Can anyone better that?

IF GREG Dyke's bid to be the new director-general of the BBC is compromised by his past political donations (pounds 50,000 to New Labour since 1994) what of Howard Stringer, the boss of Sony in America, who's moving smartly forward for John Birt's job? Stringer was among the New Yorkers who donated $15,000 to New Labour towards the 1997 election campaign; subsequently very visible at New Labour functions, he attended a "Hi Tone" state dinner during Blair's American jaunt in February 1998. Stringer is close to another powerbroker: Callum McCarthy, formerly BZW's US chief executive, now boss of two energy regulators - Offer and Ofgas. Could the BBC job become another example of the mind-meld between New World and New Labour?

LEADERS' WIVES (continues) - enquiring minds want to know: is Ffion (pictured) Ppregnant?

GERI HALLIWELL is not winning friends and influencing people across the water. The girl who fell off the Spice rack has drawn the ire of the US media. Reporters covering her New York press launch complained of being kept waiting 45 minutes; sparks cut power to TV crews during a video screening; no one could enter the event once it had started, nor leave with any of her music at the end. Halliwell also managed to offend the city's powerful gay showbiz constituency with a tasteless remark about drag queens - she said she used to look like one.

Contact Pandora by e-mail: pandora@ independent.co.uk

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