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People: JFK's sister gets out the begging-bowl

CHARITY begins at home; in this case the home of Jean Kennedy Smith, the US ambassador to Ireland. She has asked American companies to donate money for the upkeep of her official residence, a historic Georgian mansion in Dublin's Phoenix Park.

Ms Kennedy Smith, sister of John F Kennedy, has written to several US businesses in Ireland, complaining that Washington does not allocate enough money to maintain the residence. Clinton administration cost-cutting measures meant little money would be forthcoming for upkeep of the mansion, which has been the US ambassador's residence since 1927.

HELL hath no fury like a theocracy scorned. Iranian legislators said yesterday that comments by the US Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, calling for international isolation of Iran demonstrated his 'ignorance, bad manners and lack of culture'.

Tehran radio quoted parliament's Foreign Relations Committee as saying in a statement that Iran's popularity among Muslim movements around the world has 'so infuriated the enemies of righteousness and humanity that they impudently attack the great cultural values of the world'. In November, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's spiritual leader, referred to Mr Christopher as 'that ugly-faced foreign minister'.

BEFORE going on the road with the band, Mick Jagger hit the information superhighway in New York. The Rolling Stones' lead singer tapped into the Prodigy service, answering questions about the group's coming 43-city US tour and offering some listening tips.

Fans should listen up for 'Waiting on a Friend', which will be a hot number in concert. But forget 'Stray Cat Blues' - it's sounding 'dreadful' in practice. As for the hits that top his list, Jagger said the group's most important songs are 'Satisfaction' and 'Honky-Tonk Woman' because they were the biggest hits.

WHILE the PLO leader, Yasser Arafat, seems afraid to show his face in public, his wife, Suha, has no such qualms. Yesterday she joined 150 youngsters at a beach to launch Gaza City's annual two-week summer-cleaning programme. With Israeli occupation gone and Gaza under Palestinian self-rule, organisers hope there will be more enthusiasm now than during the programme's four-year history. And they hope it will be a first step towards a wider civic consciousness.

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