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WHAT USED to be "Zippergate" is now being called "Hurricane Monica" in the States. As one former supporter after another jumps off the Clinton ship, yesterday a top American television journalist revealed that former Senator George Mitchell - the man who brokered the Northern Ireland peace agreement - has refused Clinton's offer to lead his defence against the gathering forces of impeachment.

GARY LINEKER (pictured) launched a book of his favourite football stories at London's Ivy restaurant on Wednesday. Although none of the stories in the volume was penned by Gary, he made an amusing autobiographical speech to the gathering. At one point, he recounted the tense build-up prior to the penalty shoot out against West Germany in the 1990 World Cup. How did England manager Bobby Robson calm his players nerves? According to Lineker, he brought them together in a huddle and said, "Don't let me down lads. There's 30 million people watching us." Pandora wonders if Glenn Hoddle might have emulated Robson's example before this year's heartbreaking penalty shoot out against Argentina. Could it have been, "Don't let me down lads. God is watching - and I've got a book to write"?

During the evening Gary Lineker expressed some doubt over Rupert Murdoch's takeover of Manchester United asking, "How long will it be before we can only see Manchester United games on Sky?". Lineker's concern over a conflict of interests comes days after his BBC Sports colleague Des Lynam voiced similar concerns. However, while BBC Sports presenters may worry in public about the ramifications of Sky's buyout of Manchester United, BBC staff members will no doubt be grateful in private. The BBC pension fund has a 2 per cent stake in the club, so presumably Murdoch's intervention will provide some good cheer at the corporation.

FRIENDS OF Shakespeare's Globe Theatre took a wine-and-cheese cruise down the River Thames on Wednesday evening. Before going aboard, there was time to wander around the theatre which was reconstructed at the instigation of the late American filmmaker Sam Wanamaker. When one friend enquired at the information desk if it was possible to buy cigarettes, he was told, "With our history, we wouldn't want anyone smoking." Indeed, since the original burned to the ground in 1613 due to a wayward spark from a stage cannon. The Globe's history continues to exert its influence in unusual ways. The first members of the theatre's Globe 1000 Club, who sponsored the event, were a Mr and Mrs Shakespeare.

IT'S OFFICIAL. After months of speculation and false rumours, the release date for Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, has finally been announced in Hollywood. The film, which went into production in 1996, will open on 16 July 1999 in the States. At least that's the official line, but knowing how the reclusive Kubrick strives for perfection, Pandora would not be surprised if the date changes.

JUST HOW bad are things in Russia? A news story in yesterday's Moscow Times gives more than a hint. Apparently a retired army captain named Yury Bystrov locked himself in an office at, the SBS-Agro Bank and threatened to set himself on fire unless he was allowed to withdraw his savings.

INSIDERS AT The Times have been feeling superior about the sycophantic coverage given by their sister publication The Sun to proprietor Rupert Murdoch's purchase of Manchester United. Until yesterday, that is, when page five of the broadsheet carried the headline "Armchair fans in line for the best seats" followed by the reassuring subhead "TV coverage means more of the 100m-strong Red Army will see games".