People: A Clinton star is born

IN just a few months Janet Reno, the first female US Attorney-General, has become the star of the Clinton administration, according to a US News and World Report poll.

The magazine found Ms Reno's popularity was at 67 per cent, much higher than Bill Clinton's 41 per cent.

Some Clinton advisers have suggested Ms Reno - 54 years old and 6ft 2in tall - has built her popularity at the President's expense. It was Ms Reno who ordered FBI agents to assault the Branch Davidian cult compound in Waco, Texas and end the 51-day siege on 19 April. More than 70 cult members died in the fire that followed. Ms Reno defended her action and took full responsibility for the consequences long before Mr Clinton did so.

A month later, Ms Reno protested against a decision by White House staff members to call in the FBI to justify the firing of seven in-house travel employees. The White House backed down and five of the employees have been re-hired.

When Mr Clinton nominated Lani Guinier to head the civil rights division of the Justice Department, she stood by Ms Guinier even after Senate pressure forced the President to drop her because of her controversial views on proportional voting rights for blacks. 'If (Mr Clinton) doesn't like what I think is the right thing to do, I'll go home to Florida,' she said recently.

King Fahd of Saudi Arabia issued a revolutionary decree late on Sunday night appointing SHEIKH ABDEL AZZIZ BEN-BAZ to three of the highest posts of the land: the kingdom's mufti; the head of the board of grand Islamic scholars; and a minister heading the directorate of fatwa. The blind Sheikh Ben-Baz made headlines in 1976 with his fatwa ruling that the Earth - as he interprets the Koran - is flat and it would be blasphemy to give in to the ignorance perpetuated by the infidels' claim that it is a sphere.

GREED is good and will help bring democracy to China, the prominent Tiananmen Square veteran WANG DAN says. In an article in the South China Morning Post, Mr Wang cheered the spread of 'money worship' in China, saying it would check the pervasive authority of the state. 'I believe that 'money as the core (of everything)' is more progressive than 'power as the core',' he said. He called the south - the fastest growing region in the world - 'the hope of China'.

The western Chinese are not without healthy capitalist instincts, however. There is a mountain in Xinjiang that they have managed to persuade people resembles Mao Tse- tung lying in his coffin. It was called Baketu, but they have renamed it after Mao and the tourists are flocking west in droves.

THE VILLAGE court of LOBENGULA, Zimbabwe's last tribal king, is to be rebuilt as a theme park, a century after he torched the palace and his subjects' mud and grass huts.

King Lobengula of the warlike Ndebele people, an offshoot of the Zulus of South Africa, razed his headquarters, Gubulawayo, in 1893 to prevent British soldiers from capturing it. Now a replica is to be rebuilt in Matabeleland some 20km from Bulawayo.

Since independence in 1980, Ndebele leaders including Vice-President Joshua Nkomo have agitated for the rebirth of their founder's home. But they could not raise enough interest, or money, from a government dominated by Shona people, their traditional enemies.

(Photograph omitted)

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