PEOPLE

Confess to a priest if you must, President Carlos Menem has told the torturers of tens of thousands of Argentines, but don't tell the press about your cruel deeds during the ``dirty war''.

To make such disclosures, "to bring up the past again, and [the fact] that some news media and some journalists start working again on the subject to stick the knife into the wound we are trying to heal, is to me aberrant and repugnant," he said. "When someone repents for something he has done, he looks for a priest and confesses."

Mr Menem's comments follow the public confession of a former naval officer, Commander Adolfo Scilingo, that he had helped throw kidnapped leftists, who were drugged and stripped naked, out of planes to their deaths in the 1970s. An estimated 4,000 people were killed during the former military regime's ``dirty war'' against the left, and at least10,000 ``disappeared''.

r r r

As growing numbers of Americans visit Vietnam, many of them former soldiers, requests to meet an elegant and soft-spoken 65-year-old woman have multiplied.

Trinh Thi Ngo used to play Jimi Hendrix, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Cream, Pete Seeger and Joan Baez, music too radical for US Armed Forces Radio, on the Voice of Vietnam. She broadcast to US troops as Thu Huong, or Autumn Fragrance, but she was better known as Hanoi Hannah.

Unlike Tokyo Rose during the Second World War, Thu Huong did not use shrill threats or tell tales about what soldiers' wives were up to back home. She began her programmes with reports about ambushed US units, captured troops and anti-war demonstrations and commentary in the United States. US troops loved the music, and her voice.

She left the radio job after the war and lived in obscurity until 1993, when the Vietnamese government honoured her as "artist emeritus" in recognition of her role as a psychological weapon of war. If she could make one more broadcast to a US audience she would say: "Let bygones be bygones. Let's forget the past."

r r r

Donald Trump and his former wife, Ivana, are back together - but only to share a pizza. The couple have filmed an American television commercial for Pizza Hut's new Stuffed Crust Pizza. In the ad, Ivana asks Donald for a slice. He answers: ``You're already entitled to half of everything."

r r r

Financial troubles driving you to tears? You have company in Otto Stich, the Swiss Finance Minister, who shocked parliament when, frustrated by his opponents, wept during a budget debate.

"I suddenly had the impression nothing more could be achieved with rational means," he explained. Mr Stich said he was an emotional man who usually kept his feelings to himself, but was upset by deputies' refusal to approve proposed spending cuts. Despite the ``how long can he hang on?'' views of some Swiss papers, Mr Stich has no plans to step down. His plain speaking and rumpled appearance have endeared him to the public - as have his tears.

Maryann Bird

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