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Papering over the cracks

The Lord Chancellor, Derry Irvine, will visit Washington DC next weekend. His schedule, arranged with help from both 10 Downing Street and the Labour Party, calls for an exhausting round of high-profile events, culminating with his delivery of the nationally televised National Heritage Lecture at the Supreme Court next Monday. Pandora's sources report that the aim is to enhance Derry's international reputation at a time when his image in Britain remains, er, colourful. Among other Washington activities which our highest ranking legal officer will undertake are a private lunch with the Supreme Court justices, speaking to the Oxford-Cambridge Society dinner and a dinner for Glasgow University alumni. Its principal, Sir Graeme Davies, is flying in especially for this. Most unfortunately, however, our own British ambassador, Sir Christopher Meyer, who ordinarily loves a good party, will not be in the US capital to look after Derry. It was Meyer's absence, we're told, that convinced the Lord Chancellor that he would be more at home staying in a Washington hotel. In view of Pandora's previous accounts of this embassy's coolness to Labour Party officials, for once it looks like Derry has made a wise decision about his accommodation.

Cheap move

We had always assumed that the Mirror's chief rival in the British tabloid market was Rupert Murdoch's Sun. But Pandora has to revise such thinking after Saturday. It was Murdoch's "upmarket" Times which joined with the Mirror in splashing a huge photograph of Leonardo DiCaprio's supposed new girlfriend, Vanessa Haydon, left, on their front pages. What a major scoop for the Thunderer. But it does make sense when you consider that Saturday's Times costs 40p, putting it far closer in price to other tabloids than to any genuine British broadsheet.

Actions speak louder

Immediately after Diana, Princess of Wales' death, President Clinton said: "We liked her very much. We admired her work." Not enough to join with more than 100 other nations in signing the international treaty outlawing landmines, but then Clinton could always point to his own moratorium on the US use of landmines that became American law in 1966. Now, according to yesterday's New York Times, Clinton is urging Congress to reverse its own law. He's under pressure from his joint chiefs of staff, who say that if Iraq invaded Kuwait or Saudi Arabia the ban on mines could deprive American troops of "the means to adequately defend our forces and our allies". Isn't it sad that "friends" of the late Princess such as Clinton cannot be relied on to defend the work they "admired" so much?

Prayers for the president

More insights on Clinton's perfidious character will soon be available in a new book called The Unfinished Presidency: Carter's Journey beyond the White House by Douglas Brinkley. Apparently, at the time of his first inauguration, Clinton snubbed ex-President Jimmy Carter, causing Carter's wife to say that not even Reagan would have treated them so shabbily. The book reveals, however, that in January, shortly after the Monica Lewinsky Zippergate scandal broke, Clinton invited Carter to the White House and asked him "to pray for him in his hour of darkness". Pandora hopes that Carter had the sense not to get down on his knees in this nauseating man's office.

Honour for Linda

Before her death, Linda McCartney was scheduled to fly to New York to accept the National Ethnic Coalition of Organisations' Medal of Honour next Saturday. Now the leaders of the US group have told the mourning Sir Paul that if he doesn't feel able to attend in her place, they "will fly to England to make the presentation". Pandora has a strong hunch that the ex-Beatle will make the sad journey himself.