People: Lucette speaks up for Third World

THE NEW French humanitarian affairs minister has wasted little time in attacking her popular predecessor, Bernard Kouchner, for a 'colonising and paternalistic' attitude towards the Third World.

Lucette Michaux-Chevry, a conservative black woman born in Guadeloupe, said she was shocked by television footage of the Socialist Mr Kouchner feeding hungry Somalis. 'To see a white man stirring black children's food and putting it on their plates looks colonialist,' she said. 'He meant well but showed a total misunderstanding of people's pride . . . I can carry a plate of rice on my head with elegance, but that is not the image I want to give of France.'

PERU'S President, Alberto Fujimori, says he sometimes consults a psychic when he faces difficult personal decisions. 'When there is something that does not concern the national interest . . . I consult a seer,' he said. When the President, who dissolved Congress and seized near-dictatorial powers a year ago, is not consulting a seer he is 'a partisan of pragmatism . . . I act by my own inspiration with the mentality of an engineer and the logic of a mathematician.'

MAO has been dead for more than 16 years but his body is still in fine shape, says the New China News Agency. Rumours that the body, which is displayed in a memorial hall in Tiananmen Square, has been shrinking or discolouring are due to optical illusions from the hall's subdued lighting, according to the hall's director, Xu Jing. 'Monitors show no noticeable changes, macro or micro,' according to Mr Xu.

A DANISH playwright has had his latest production cancelled - at the request of Salman Rushdie. Gunnar Froberg's play The Fallen Angel was to have opened at a Copenhagen theatre on 26 April. Mr Froberg said Mr Rushdie supported the play in letters a year ago. 'But now he has backed out after reading my final manuscript.'

Excerpts from The Satanic Verses, the novel that Iranian religious leaders found blasphemous and Ayatollah Khomeini condemned Mr Rushdie to death for, were to have been read during the performance.

THE grande dame of the Italian cinema, Sophia Loren, is considering, maybe, running for mayor of her home town, Naples. 'If there was a referendum, a direct election, I might think about it,' she said at her ranch near Santa Barbara, California.

The idea was broached one evening recently at a dinner with friends, including Nancy Reagan. 'It was one of those things that come up at table, without too much thought . . . but for the moment I have not the time,' Ms Loren said.

With their big political bosses suspected of collusion with the Camorra (the local Mafia), 17 MPs and half of the city council under investigation, the outgoing mayor in jail, Neapolitans would probably see Sophia as a gift from heaven.

ANOTHER bit of Italian cheer was Federico Fellini's Oscar for lifelong achievement in cinema. A picture of the director was the only happy illustration on the front page of the Corriere della Sera on Wednesday.

Italian television repeatedly played a segment of the Oscar awards in which Fellini told his wife, Giulietta Masina, to 'please stop crying'. He later told a reporter who expressed concern for Ms Masina's health: 'Don't worry. She's an actress. She knows when to start crying and stop crying.'

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