'Di Pietro has undoubtedly been the most significant person in Italy this year and worthy of a place in a creche,' said Giuseppe Ferrino, whose Naples shop specialises in Christmas figures. Every year, Mr Ferrino and fellow Neapolitan artisans choose a significant Italian to offer as an alternative to the traditional shepherd. The first batch of Di Pietro statuettes, showing him either in a magistrate's gown or a business suit, has sold out in Naples.
HE'S NOT depicted as a shepherd, but images of Bill Clinton as a saxophone-playing angel in sunglasses can be seen on the Christmas tree in the East Foyer of the White House. Does he deserve to be depicted as an angel? 'No comment,' responded Hillary Rodham Clinton with a smile.
The presidential mansion has been decorated with 22 trees, 70 craft items, 7,500 handmade ornaments and a yard-high gingerbread White House called 'The House of Socks', featuring the Clinton family cat.
The White House is ready for the holidays, but the President isn't. When he lived in Arkansas, Mr Clinton stashed gifts away long before Christmas, then ran out just before the holiday to finish up. But his busy first year in office kept his stash smaller than usual. 'The circumstances in my life have changed,' he said.
THE circumstances in the life of Brigitte Bardot have changed, too, since her marriage last year to Bernard d'Ormale, a far-right French politician. Donations and bequests to her beloved animal rights foundation have dropped significantly and her television programme, SOS Animaux, is off the air. Bardot acknowledges that her marriage to Mr d'Ormale, a friend of the National Front leader, Jean- Marie Le Pen, has caused problems for her cause.
According to the newspaper Liberation, many Jewish philanthropists who had intended to bequeath money to the Brigitte Bardot Foundation changed their minds because of the National Front's reputation for espousing anti-Semitic and racist policies.
'I spent seven years alone and miserable,' Bardot said. 'Unfortunately, I fell in love with a guy from the National Front. He takes care of the politics, I look after the animals. Sometimes I say to him: 'Look, Bernard, can't you just join another party?' ' But, she insisted, 'My husband loves me and I love him.'
Still, the future may be bleak for the couple. 'I would have been better off falling in love with a shoe salesman,' said Bardot. 'If all this does me too much harm, we will be forced to separate and I think it would be unfair for me to have to end my life alone. It's the demonisation of love.'
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