Belgiumania is sweeping the Philippines because Miss Roelandts's soft features, long brown hair and smile look like the kind of dolls popular with Philippine girls. The nation cried when she did not make the cut of the 10 Miss Universe finalists. Bets were lost and a heated argument over whether Miss Philippines or Miss Belgium was the more beautiful led to two drunken men killing each other.
Spelling also fell victim. Miss Roelandts posed for photographers wearing a sash that misspelled the name of her country. It didn't matter. She just became known - and loved - as 'Miss Beli-gum'.
WAVING his trademark flywhisk, Hastings Kamuzu Banda finally moved out of the presidential Sanjika Palace on Wednesday and into a modest new residence. Hundreds of Malawians thronged the streets of Blantyre to catch a glimpse of their former 'president for life', to boo or to cheer. Malawi's new leader, Bakili Muluzi, has been working from his small home since the May election and had said he was in no hurry to occupy Mr Banda's palace.
HIS Norwegian counterpart once famously called him a drittsekk (shitbag), but John Gummer says he and Thorbjorn Berntsen are 'good friends now'. Mr Gummer, Britain's Environment Secretary, put his arm around Mr Berntsen's shoulder as he arrived at an Oslo hotel for an international meeting on acid rain.
Amid allegations that British factories were poisoning Norway with acid rain, Mr Berntsen told a Norwegian election rally last year that Mr Gummer was 'the biggest drittsekk I have met in my life'.
Mr Berntsen admits he never directly apologised for his remark, but Mr Gummer has no hard feelings. 'I pointed out that one of the best ways of growing anything is the use of farmyard manure - even friendship,' he said.
HARMONY in the Middle East took a small dancing step backwards yesterday when Egypt banned a concert by Peter Gabriel, citing security reasons. The British pop star was to have performed tomorrow at the Red Sea resort of Taba on the Israeli border. The director general of Israel's Foreign Ministry, Uri Savir, said 'people sometimes get stuck at the roadblocks of the past'. Gabriel's Egyptian promoter said the concert would be held at the Israeli resort of Eilat 'because there's no South Sinai governor there'.