Dreyfus goes to the Devil

PEOPLE

A Dreyfus has returned to Devil's Island nearly 100 years after L'Affaire Dreyfus scandalised 19th-century France. Charles Dreyfus, grandson of Alfred, has become the first family member to visit the notorious prison off the coast of French Guiana where the Jewish army captain was held on trumped-up charges of passing military secrets to foreign powers.

"This brings back very bad memories for my family,'' Mr Dreyfus told local television, ``and I hesitated before coming here because it's something that has deeply marked my family. I think that explains why no one from the family wanted to come here until now."

The Dreyfus Affair ignited French anti-Semitism when a military court convicted the officer of espionage. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and shipped to Devil's Island in 1895. He was freed four years later, after the affair unravelled. Devil's Island has been uninhabited since France closed its penal colonies in French Guiana at the end of the Second World War.

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Patti Davis has had her share of public disagreements with her father, Ronald Reagan. In recent years she has portrayed him as cold and distant, and compared his alleged poor parenting to his treatment of the United States in general during his presidency. But in her latest book, she has some kind words for the old man, now suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Ms Davis particularly admires the way Mr Reagan forgave John Hinckley, the man who shot him in 1981. "He knew in his soul that even Hinckley belonged to God,'' she writes in Angels Don't Die: My Father's Gift of Faith. ``That knowledge leads to forgiveness; it transforms and heals.''

Reflecting her new reverence for Ron, she says: "He's like a stately old cathedral to me now; I sit in a back pew, in the shadows, bow my head and pray for all of us."

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The front-page news from China yesterday - bigger news even than a storm that brought hailstones the size of basketballs - concerned the title calligraphy for a Communist military hero's biography. The calligrapher was identified as none other than Deng Xiaoping, the paramount leader who has not been seen in public in more than a year and is believed to be near death.

Newspapers did not say when Mr Deng, 90, provided the work for the biography of Marshal Ye Jianying.

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One Bangladeshi village's 500 or so residents will not soon forget Hillary Rodham Clinton. The people of Rishi Para have renamed the town Hillary Para to honour the US First Lady. On her recent tour of five South Asian countries, Mrs Clinton visited Rishi Para, near Dhaka, and met poor women who run small businesses with loans from a rural bank.

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