Pandora

CHRIS SMITH, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, rang Pandora yesterday in an angry mood. He was displeased by Monday's story saying that he had told the people of Saltaire that he was keen to see their town named as one of the British sites on the UN's World Heritage list. In fact, Smith said, he had merely said that Saltaire was "clearly a candidate" for the list, and had made it clear that the ultimate decision wasn't his. Pandora is happy to set the record straight. Smith was also displeased by our mention of the Select Committee report last June that was critical of him, pointing out that it never actually used the words "lightweight" or "ineffective". No, but the Committee did call on him to take "a much tougher attitude in his negotiations with the Treasury". When Smith told the Committee that his Department was "an increasingly important component of the overall work which Government does", the Committee responded, "We wish we found that statement convincing". Lest there be any misunderstandings.

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RUSSIAN RIGHT-WING zealot Vladimir Zhirinovsky is not impressed by President Clinton's visit to Moscow. He has urged Clinton to leave Hillary and marry Monica Lewinsky. "A visit by President Clinton today is untimely, especially considering his recent moral scandal," said Zhirinovsky. According to the South China Morning Post, he also said: "We, as individuals with high moral character, would prefer not to meet a person who still can't sort out his relationship with his secretary." The nationalist deputy is famous for his own high moral standards. Indeed, the Chinese newspaper recalls the stories of him beating up a female deputy on the floor of the Russian parliament and performing in a film along with several nude ladies. And he's always impeccably behaved with his secretary.

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AS IF Western relations with the Muslim world were not tense enough, now Hollywood is upping the ante with a new Bruce Willis vehicle called Siege. The plot concerns a US government attempt to intern all citizens of Middle Eastern descent after a wave of terrorist bombings in New York. Arab and Muslim Americans are outraged at the stereotyping in the film, but its director, Edward Zwick, claims the film is an attack on the dangers of totalitarianism, and he's hanging tough. "Events in the last couple of weeks point out the fact that Arab terrorism exists in the world, and not to address it would be fatuous and disingenuous." Better "fatuous" than "fatwa", Ed.

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AMERICANS HAVE begun calling Bill Clinton "the man who launched a thousand jokes", and a favourite new parlour game is suggesting titles for the movie of Zippergate. These include Citizen Stain, The Big Lewinsky, Willy Wonka and the Cigar Factory and Starr Wars. Oh, yes, and watch out for Terms of Impeachment.

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PANDORA SALUTES Emrys Williams, curator of the Lloyd George Museum in Llanystumdwy, North Wales. In view of the recent Ulster peace agreement, Mr Williams has decided to update the display board relating to Lloyd George's work on the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty. "Lloyd George met with Sinn Fein and was the only prime minister to have done so until Tony Blair," Williams told Pandora. "It is incumbent on us that we now update the display." Considering the volatility of Irish history, did Williams foresee any further revisions? "I think that, providing everything goes according to plan, this is the last update we will do." Lloyd George himself would have been proud of such optimism.

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THE SECOND series of the BBC's Rock Family Trees begins on Friday. One show will cover the late Seventies punk scene, particularly the reminiscences of Siouxsie Sioux, leader of the Banshees. "I had these three microphones gathered together, because I wanted to be not twice as loud but three times as loud as anyone else," she tells the camera. "Because I'd read about people's bowels dropping out at certain frequencies, I thought, `if I can make it really painful, we might see some action here!'." Don't miss it.

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