The Box

Mitchell's peace at home

NOBEL Peace Prize candidate George Mitchell celebrated Friday's peace agreement by going for a brief Easter stroll in New York's Central Park. Mitchell, 64, is the former US senator who led the Ulster mediation team during the past 22 months. He remarried in 1994 and has a six-month-old son, whom he has seen only fleetingly since his birth. Dressed in khaki trousers, green anorak and trainers, Mitchell walked beside his wife Heather as she carried baby Andrew in a sling. "I feel fine," Mitchell told the New York Times. "I slept on the plane." Amazingly, after a brief trip to Washington to report to President Clinton this week and then his baby's christening, Mitchell is leaving on a business trip to Europe. Judging from his wife's acceptance of this plan, Pandora must assume Mitchell is a miracle worker whose peace brokering knows no limits, political or domestic.

Class diversion for Tory

FOLLOWING Gyles Brandreth's astounding diary revelations in the Sunday Telegraph, the hunt is on to find the Tory minister who missed an Education Bill vote on 28 January 1997 after having told the former Tory whip, "I've got some right high-class shank tonight. I'm going to take her home and knob her rigid". Could this have been the same MP who went missing for a Commons division on the Education Bill the previous evening, 27 January, in which the Government was defeated by one vote? Pandora believes almost anything was possible during those last dark hours before Major's downfall.

Capital idea dies a death

A JOLLY Easter lunch party in Oxfordshire took a macabre turn when the journalist and author Paul Johnson decided to poll his table companions on the subject of capital punishment. "Do you believe in the death penalty?" Johnson asked the Telegraph proprietor Conrad Black, the novelist Candia McWilliams (right), the playwright Harold Pinter, financier and host Peter Soros and Pandora, among others. "No," was the answer in each case. "Oh well," said an unruffled Johnson, looking across the room at the other table, "I don't suppose anyone over there agrees with me either."

Big issue for US streets

THE launch of the Big Issue in Los Angeles this month has sparked a turf war. There have long been other marginal newspapers in America produced for and by homeless people. But the Big Issue is a very polished publication compared to New York's Street News, San Francisco's Street Sheet or Santa Monica's Making Change. Founded by John Bird and Gordon Roddick, the Big Issue carries glam advertising (Calvin Klein, Levi's) and turns a handsome profit. Of course all profit goes to support charities for the homeless, but its American rivals distrust such success. Jennifer Waggoner, who has published one issue of Making Change in Santa Monica, works on a laptop in the back of her van. The Big Issue has offered her financial assistance, a new computer and help in finding office space, but she is having none of it.

PC Julie's sporting chance

IN LAST Saturday's Guardian, Julie Burchill wrote extolling political correctness. Her justification: female American undergraduates need firm rules to protect them from oversized, oversexed male athletes on campus. Pandora salutes this classic example of anything-for-a-little-attention Burchillian reasoning. (Since male student athletes make up far less than 1 per cent of the campus population, it's clear that the "political" in Burchill's PC code has nothing to do with democracy.) The American colleges with the strictest rules about student sex behaviour are institutions such as Oral Roberts University, run by right-wing Christian zealots who ban dancing, hand holding and, incidentally, regard any form of political correctness like vampires exposed to the sun. Perhaps Julie should take up a writer-in-residence post at ORU and try a taste of her own hogwash?

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