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ATTACKS BY armed pirates rose 122 per cent during 1997098, according to the International Maritime Bureau. More than half happened in or around the South China Sea. Marauders completed most raids in less than 30 minutes. Fewer than 5 per cent of the attacks resulted in arrest.

BOY LOVES girl. Girl loves boy. Boy leaves girl for car... yes, only in America would a man try to marry his car. He's from Knoxville in (surprise, surprise) Tennessee and answers to "Buster Mitchell". His auto erotic love object is a 1996 Mustang GT. Court officials have just refused the 28-year-old permission to plight his troth with the vehicle in a civil ceremony, according to the current issue of Details. A mouthpiece from Ford telephoned Buster and offered to collect the car if he would reunite with his girl. Last time we looked, he hadn't.

GENDER BLUR - the numbers say that sex chromosome abnormalities happen in as many as one birth in 450. If there are some 56 million people on these shores... you do the maths.

FELIX DENNIS, the maverick millionaire publisher and techno entrepreneur, surprised Periodical Publishers Association delegates with the suggestion he may sell his stable of more than 20 magazines because, inter alia, of the i/net. Dennis (pictured) is millennially paradoxical. Commercially, he plays hardball; in private life, he's open-handed. He loves Britain, but spends much of his time in New York and Mustique. He reportedly craves political influence (and has been invited to Downing Street), yet remains openly contemptuous of the 20th-century Establishment. Oh, and Felix - Pandora has a newsbreak for you: Gill Hudson, the woman behind the success of your flagship mag Maxim, is resigning. She's been head-hunted by the BBC to whip its magazine division into shape.

RUSS MEYER, the legendary 77-year-old skinflick auteur, has filed for a restraining order against Debra Masson, his 39-year-old live-in lover, claiming that she beat him up over the weekend. LAPD arrested the former stripper, who's currently behind bars on spousal abuse charges waiting for someone to post her $10,000 bail.

GET ME REWRITE Dept. "Editing isn't rocket science. It's much harder," writes Roy Greenslade this week on page two of The Guardian's alleged media bit: "Okay, so Sun editor David Yelland made one of the biggest bloomers in modern tabloid history. It was not the first error and it won't be the last." Readers who turned to page five may have been surprised to read that the piece continued: "Okay, so Sun editor David Yelland made one of the biggest bloomers in modern tabloid history. It was not the first error and it won't be the last." You said it, Roy.

CIGAR BAR etiquette: "When a big shot lights his cigar with a pounds 20 note," suggests Glenn O'Brien, the hack, "match up by lighting yours with a pounds 1,000 cheque."

THE SHIREBOUND shower who comprise The Daily Telegraph's readership had the wool pulled over their collective noggin this week. "In his first British interview since the flop of Absolute Beginners, Julian Temple tells Jim Shelley about his new film." Fact: Independent readers read Julian Temple's first British interview (and yes, about his new film) - with John Walsh - here a full five days earlier.

SCRATCH'N'SNIFF CDs open a plethora of possibilities for music biz marketeers. But imagine consumer confusion in stores if record companies proceed with plans to let us smell out our favourite choons. For openers, try: Garbage (garbage), Frankie Knuckles (new car smell), The Beatles (apple), Bananarama (also fruity), the Prodigy (Zip firestarters), The Barenaked Ladies (tangy aroma of scoop du jour?)

THE NEW Varsity sport? Pooh Sticks may be upgraded to quarter blue status, and there could be an Oxford vs Cambridge contest this summer. Pandora says: "It's not cricket."

Contact Pandora by e-mail: pandora@ independent.