People: Jacko's marriage turns into a Russian tragedy

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AS IF a basket-case economy, a soaring crime rate and Vladimir Zhirinovsky are not enough to trouble the Russians, now they have to deal with the marriage of Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley. It's more than Jacko's fans can bear, according to the country's most popular daily newspaper.

'There are many tragedies in the life of our people,' Moskovsky Komsomolets said. 'The latest one concerns mainly females below 25 years old . . . Girls, accept our condolences.

'Having become a reputable family man, (Jackson) has rehabilitated himself in the eyes of respectable Americans, who would never forgive any rock star (accused of) being a child molester,' the paper said. 'We're not Americans. His fans here would prefer him to be gay, a child-molester and a serial killer all at once, rather than have their girlish dreams wrecked by an image of him as an exemplary husband.'

And if the Russians are upset by Jackson as an exemplary husband, what will they think of him as a liberator of Eastern Europe?

In conjunction with Redeeming Eastern Europe, an album due out in the autumn, Jackson plans to film a video clip in Budapest this weekend. Taking the role of 'redeemer', he arrives in an East European capital, chases out the Soviet troops and is honoured with a monument erected by the grateful city.

IT PROBABLY won't be as memorable a communication as Alexander Graham Bell's 'Come here, Watson, I want you.' Still, Warren Christopher will make a historic telephone call next week when he places the first direct call from Israel to Jordan. The link is one of the provisions of the 25 July accord that ended a 46-year state of war.

A DIRECT descendant of the Inca Emperor Atahualpa (he of the gold-filled room) is alive and well and sitting in the Ecuadorean cabinet in Quito. President Sixto Duran Ballen, who has been taking a lot of flak from Ecuador's militant Indian organisations, hit upon the notion of appointing Luis Felipe Duchicela XXVIII to the new post of secretary for Indian affairs, on the assumption that the natives would be suitably impressed. Luis Felipe's paternal grandfather was in the direct blood line from Inca Roca, one of Atahualpa's sons, and Princess Cori Duchicela. Since 1984, Luis Felipe has been hereditary king of Cacha, a community of 10,000 fiercely independent Indians. At his swearing-in the honour guard was replaced by Cacha Indians in ponchos, blowing quenas, the Andean pan pipes.

But all is not quite as it seems. Luis Felipe was born in the port of Guayaquil, not in the ancestral mountains. He has an MBA from Yale, is a vice-president of the US- owned Chiquita Brands banana company and has no track record of involvement in Indian causes.

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