Newt's saying nowt about 1976 'affair'

PEOPLE

Newt Gingrich maintained a discreet silence yesterday about a Dorset-born woman's claim that they had an affair 20 years ago. Anne Manning told Vanity Fair magazine that she and Mr Gingrich became romantically involved in 1976, when she was a campaign volunteer for the aspiring politician. The magazine said Mr Gingrich had a series of affairs during his first marriage and at least one may have cost him the 1974 congressional election. "We'd have won ... if we could have kept him out of the office, [having sex with] her on the desk," said Kip Carter, once Mr Gingrich's campaign treasurer. "I don't have any reaction to that,'' the House Speaker said of the magazine article. Vanity Fair also quoted his current wife, Marianne, as saying she will publicly "undermine everything" if he runs for president. Mr Gingrich did not seem worried by that, saying she was "just making the point hypothetically''.

Charlemagne is back, not as King of the Franks this time, but as Mayor of Port-au-Prince. "To die, to die, to die - It's noble to die for the country," sang Manno Charlemagne and his supporters before he took over city hall a week ago. He belted out the Haitian national anthem in the same baritone that once sang of social injustice, repression and US imperialism, making him a hero to Haitian youth since the late 1970s. A close friend and former adviser of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Mr Charlemagne is remembered for shouting ''Down with Duvalier!" in 1980, almost six years before the 29-year Duvalier dynasty fell - a cry that forced him into exile in Miami for a while. He has pledged to wear blue jeans "except on official occasions", to modernise the city - and to stage the best carnivals Haiti has ever seen.

Opponents of French nuclear tests in the South Pacific are wheeling out some big - and old - guns in their growing campaign. Norwegian environmental groups plan to feature the renowned explorer Thor Heyerdahl in ads. Now 80, Mr Heyerdahl drifted across the Pacific on the raft Kon-Tiki in 1947 to prove the population of Polynesia could have come from South America. Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the oceanographer, 85, also issued a statement opposing the tests. "Today's wisdom makes it necessary to outlaw atomic arms," said Mr Cousteau, long one of France's most respected personalities.

Subcomandante Marcos is back with a bang, a balaclava and bugs. The charismatic Mexican guerrilla leader appeared on a giant screen set up in Mexico City's main square, calling a referendum for 27 August on whether his Zapatista National Liberation Army should go into politics. The old irreverence that has turned Marcos into the government's Scarlet Pimpernel was still there as the masked man produced a fist-sized "killer tarantula" in a jar and said it was the mascot of the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party.

Then he played ventriloquist with a cucaracha named Durito (Little Hard Man), which told Marcos not to lay down his rifle. Durito has featured in many of Marcos's poems, short stories and plays, acting as his hardline alter ego in intellectual dialogue.

MARYANN BIRD

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