People: Castro on the virtues of infidelity

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

AS Valentine's Day approaches, it's hearts and flowers all round. Fidel Castro, long known for his romantic conquests, has come to the defence of Bill Clinton. Accusations of marital infidelity, the Cuban leader told Vanity Fair, violate Mr Clinton's human rights. 'It's an interference in his personal life. A violation of his human rights. Or is love not human?' said Mr Castro, adding with a laugh: 'Anyway, it has no logic. Clinton's wife is a beautiful woman.'

'Look at how machismo works in Latin America,' the bearded hunk said. 'There are many countries where it is a good idea for the candidate, in order to be elected, to have a lot of girlfriends, where being a womaniser is a virtue.'

SOFTENING the hearts of North Korea's leaders with flowers is a Japanese horticulturalist's achievement. Mototeru Kamo created the kimjongilia in the 1980s and dedicated the scarlet hybrid begonia to Kim Jong Il, the son and designated political heir of Kim Il Sung.

The gesture endeared him to the Pyongyang authorities, for whom the flower - now officially said to bloom in more than 50 countries - symbolised the spreading fame of the 'Dear Leader'. Mr Kamo disavows any political motives, saying he is just pursuing peace with a 'flower power' agenda. The United States, he argues, should stop threatening North Korea with sanctions over its suspected nuclear programme and send armfuls of beautiful blossoms to Pyongyang instead.

ALL WAS lovey-dovey among France's top officials as they flew to Ivory Coast for the funeral of Felix Houphouet-Boigny, the country's president. Perhaps it was because the 80-member delegation took two separate planes. Francois Mitterrand and friends went by Concorde while Edouard Balladur and his cohorts took an airbus. Even those on the same plane sat apart from their rivals.

Aboard the airbus, Mr Balladur chatted amiably with journalists while Jacques Chirac, the president of the Gaullist RPR party who fears that his presidential ambitions have been scuppered by Mr Balladur's popularity, concentrated on his latest interest, Oriental philosophy and poetry.

On the Concorde, Raymond Barre, the centrist prime minister from 1976 to 1981, sat next to Jacques Delors, the European Commission president. In the front cabin was Edith Cresson, who had an unhappy term as prime minister from 1991 to 1992. Mr Mitterrand invited her to the front so she would not have to exchange forced smiles with Michel Rocard and Laurent Fabius, two other former Socialist prime ministers who were often forthright in their assessments of her performance.

A KISS is not just a kiss when it involves Roseanne Arnold and Mariel Hemingway. The ABC television network is refusing to air an episode of the hit sitcom Roseanne because it shows the two women exchanging a kiss in a gay bar. Roseanne's husband, Tom Arnold, the show's co-producer, said he was told the kissing scene did not reflect the style of life that 'most people lead'. The Arnolds have refused to replace the scene. Armfuls of kimjongilia may be called for.