People: Graduating to a palace

RESIDENTS of Belmont, Massachusetts, flocked in their hundreds to Belmont High School to celebrate, with music and sushi, the marriage of Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan and Masako Owada. Many remember the quiet Japanese girl who attended Belmont High for two years when her diplomat father, Hisashi Owada, was a visiting scholar at Harvard Law School.

Masako, known to some as 'Brain', was a member of the maths team and the French club and, according to the assistant principal, she 'just passed through the school without causing any great ripples'. After Belmont High, Ms Owada went on to Harvard and Oxford, then began a career as a diplomat. 'She's a product of our schools and we're very proud of her as the New Age woman,' said one resident.

POLITICS makes strange bedfellows, yet again. Bill Clinton received strong support from Barry Goldwater, the ultra- conservative Republican, yesterday when the 1964 presidential nominee called for the ban on homosexuals in the military to be lifted. 'You don't need to be 'straight' to fight and die for your country,' he wrote in the Washington Post. 'You just need to shoot straight.'

Mr Goldwater, the former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the government should stay out of people's private lives and stop legislating morality. 'If I were in the Senate today, I would rise on the Senate floor in support of our commander-in-chief,' he said. 'He may be a Democrat, but he happens to be right on this question.'

HE MAY lack the charisma of Teddy Kollek (above), but Ehud Olmert is frankly confident that he has the talent and experience to unseat the six-term mayor of Jerusalem. ('I am certainly going to win this election,' according to the ginger-haired lawyer.)

He's also rather blunt about another factor that he thinks will be on his side: Mr Kollek's 82 years. 'Teddy's just a front,' Mr Olmert, a mere 48, told an interviewer. 'Maybe he will not reach election day' in November. As health minister in the previous Israeli government, is he in a position to know?

A GAULLIST parliamentarian, Jacques Godfrain, has won France's annual political humour prize for a jibe against the Socialist government. He was crowned by a panel of humourists and cartoonists for the line: 'Socialists love the poor so much that they create more of them.'

A special foreign prize was awarded to Teresa Gorman, the British Conservative MP, for her comment: 'Voting for Maastricht is like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas.'

BEING a fugitive just doesn't pay. Erich Honecker has forfeited his honourary East German pension as a 'fighter against fascism' because of the time he spent in Moscow avoiding arrest. A Berlin court ruled that the former Communist leader was not entitled to the pension, a distinction awarded by East Germany to those jailed for resisting the Nazis, because he had been abroad on 30 April 1992, when claims were registered.

The pension, which Germany has continued to pay to most East Germans who received it before unification, was worth 1,700 marks ( pounds 690) a month. Mr Honecker, 80, will continue to receive his ordinary old-age pension of DM1,485 a month, his entitlement as a roofer before the Second World War.

(Photograph omitted)

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