People: Tongue-tied Kim blunders unhappily into a new year

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The Independent Online
NORTH KOREA'S ageing leader, Kim Il Sung, is showing signs of human frailty. He made about 70 slips of the tongue during his 25-minute new year address - about 30 errors more than he made in the same speech last year, which was also 25 minutes long.

'Such an increase in misstatements is noteworthy,' commented Radio Press, a Japanese news service that monitored the President's broadcast. The health of Mr Kim, 81, is a matter of intense political interest because of questions regarding his succession by his hard-drinking playboy son and heir, Kim Jong Il, who seems fonder of fast cars and Nordic blondes than the rigours of political leadership.

But one foreign visitor who met Kim Snr recently said that he still looked alert and had a strong handshake, despite apparently having some difficulty with his hearing.

THE French actress Catherine Deneuve, must be feeling that the honour of France has been upheld. She won 100,000 francs ( pounds 11,700) in punitive damages, plus interest, against the showbiz gossip magazine Voici that had published candid photos of her without her consent.

Voici was judged to have infringed France's strict privacy laws and will be forced to run an apology on its front page within the next two weeks, regardless of any appeal that its publishing house, Prisma, may make against the court's decision.

Deneuve is the model for the face of Marianne, the national symbol of France which is displayed in every town hall in the land.

THE so-called Hollywood madam, Heidi Fleiss, has been strenuously denying reports in February's Vanity Fair that she had named the names of those who hired her pounds 1,000-a-night prostitutes. The actor Charlie Sheen and film producer Jon Peters were among those mentioned.

But Ms Fleiss said in a radio interview this week: 'No, I did not say those things and I did not name those names. That's not me, I don't talk that way, especially about other people. I was used as a pawn.'

Sheen, star of Wall Street, meanwhile, denies Fleiss's reported claim that she had a videotape of him having sex with two women. 'Not only is it unequivocally impossible, it's unconscionable,' Sheen said. The alleged tape did not exist, he insisted.

Fleiss pleads innocent to five counts of pandering and one of possessing cocaine for sale. Vanity Fair says it sticks by its story.

THE name of the French secret agent Alain Mafart, 44, who was sentenced to 10 years in jail in New Zealand for the sinking of the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior in 1985 has resurfaced. It is among 153 listed by the French official gazette for promotion to colonel this year - a promotion that some regard as coming rather late in Mafart's career.

The Rainbow Warrior crisis between France and New Zealand led to the resignation of the defence minister, Charles Hernu, and the sacking of France's secret service chief.