People: Italians give a big hand for Mr Clean

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WHO do Italians love most? According to a new poll by the Abacus research institute, it's Antonio di Pietro, the Milan magistrate who is leading the judicial assault on political corruption. The 42-year-old deputy prosecutor, a former policeman who lives and works under armed guard, is enjoying superstar status among Italians fed up with misgovernment. 'Grazie, Di Pietro', is a common graffito.

Di Pietro's investigation into how a Socialist apparatchik in Milan turned his job as manager of an old people's home and orphanage into a gold mine for kickbacks gave rise to the nationwide Mani Pulite (Clean Hands) anti-corruption drive. The prosecutor has even inspired Italian fashion: the designer Moschino has created a men's waistcoat in the red, white and green of the Italian flag with two open palms and the words Mani Pulite across it.

ALSO enjoying a personality cult is Deng Xiaoping. A new bronze badge emblazoned with his image is being mass-produced in China. It shows the paramount leader, 89 and frail, 'radiant with health and vigour and with a pair of bright piercing eyes', according to the People's Daily.

On the front of the badge, above his image, are the words 'Chief Architect of Reform and Opening'. On the back is Deng's comment when he launched a reform offensive last year: 'Be more open-minded, be more bold, be more quick-paced.'

Deng has been critical of the fanatical personality cult that surrounded Mao Tse-tung during the Cultural Revolution of 1966-76, when every Chinese wore a badge of the Great Helmsman and carried a book of his quotations.

So what does he think of the badge intended to 'eulogise comrade Deng Xiaoping's great achievements as a proletarian revolutionary and chief architect of reform and opening, and the deep love he enjoys from the Chinese people of all nationalities'?

Like Di Pietro, Deng just hasn't said anything about it.

TOGETHER again, this time to write a book, are George Bush and Brent Scowcroft. The former US president and his former national security adviser have signed a contract to co-author an account of the Bush administration's foreign policy. The publisher, Knopf, said the two would concentrate on 'critical historical turning-points', including the collapse of Soviet power, the unification of Germany and the Gulf war, and would draw on Bush's notes and personal impressions and Scowcroft's recollections. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

UGANDA said yesterday that it had postponed the 24 July coronation of Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II as king of the Baganda people by a week, as more time was needed to arrange the ceremony.

Prince Ronnie's coronation will re-establish a royal line which is said to stretch back to the 14th century. The ceremony is to take place at the royal mound at Buddo, six miles south of Kampala. One of the delays seems likely to be connected to the royal procession from Buddo. The Coronation Committee, it turns out, only began planning to build a highway from the royal mound to Kampala six weeks ago.

(Photograph omitted)