POOR Helmut Kohl is having a rough time just now as he swings on to the campaign trail.
He has taken the dubious step of introducing his legendary bulk as an issue. Fat is fun, Mr Kohl assured 2,000 supporters at a rally in Nienburg. 'There's nothing to be sorry about. It can actually be a lot of fun.'
This is perhaps a belated riposte to fellow flabby Bill Clinton, who joked a few weeks ago that Mr Kohl reminded him of sumo wrestlers he had seen on television.
ON that subject, the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Jabir al- Ahmad al-Jabir as-Sabah, is warning his subjects to curb their affluent way of life lest they fall prey to flabbiness. In his annual televised address marking the month of Ramadan, the Emir explained that a spot of austerity might be in order.
'The persistence of the style of luxury and overspending is not only a financial burden. Rather it is in the first place the wrecking of the balanced personality and implanting of the disease of arrogance and flabbiness.'
SAUDI ARABIA's King Fahd is, by contrast, in a free- spending mood. He telephoned the Middle East Broadcasting network based in London in mid-telethon to ask how much the charity programme had raised for Bosnia and victims of the Hebron incident. 'Five million dollars, your majesty' was the reply.
'I will double that amount, by donating dollars 5m,' replied the generous monarch. The Americans are not amused. King Fahd is having difficulty meeting his monthly payments for US arms.
THE French business daily Les Echos gave its journalists the week off and hired graduates from the elite Ecole Polytechnique to produce the newspaper. Yesterday's edition - on the august institution's 200th anniversary - contained an editorial by the former president, Valery Giscard d'Estaing (class of 1944), urging full employment and a piece by the Nobel economics laureate Maurice Allais (1931), calling for a united Europe. Among 59 distinguished contributors, only one was a woman - a sad reflection for International Women's Day.
FOR the African National Congress leader, Nelson Mandela, the priority is educating South Africa's children, and he warns parents that they could be jailed if they fail to send their children to school.
'We are going to make a law once we have built enough schools for our children to be absorbed . . . compelling parents to send their children to school,' he said.
'Any parent not carrying out that decision we will lock up,' and, he added crisply, 'they can come to me for lessons as to how one serves a prison sentence.'
ALSO learning how to serve a prison sentence is the Mafia superboss Salvatore 'Toto' Riina. He is watched by closed circuit cameras in his cell on the island of Asinara off Sardinia. Riina, who was arrested more than a year ago after 25 years on the run, cooks his own food in his cell.
The authorities are so worried someone might help him to escape, or kill him to keep his Mafia secrets safe, they allow no unauthorised vessel within a mile of the island. Riina's warder says he reads every letter his prisoner writes or receives - except those from his lawyer.
Yesterday, in Riina's home town of Corleone, his Mafia friends left a 'present' in the form of a calf's head on the doorstep of Giuseppe Cipriani, the town's mayor. The Sicilian town was immortalised in the film The Godfather. Cipriani, a member of the ex-Communist Democratic Party of the Left, is an outspoken critic of the Mafia.