Thatcher is tops at Cuban bash: People

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Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the biggest commie-basher of them all? It was a tough contest in Coral Gables, Florida, on Wednesday, where Jorge Mas Canosa, the fierce opponent of Fidel Castro, held forth at a luncheon of the Cuban American Nat ional Foundation.

But Mr Mas Canosa conceded top honours in the category to the organisation's luncheon guest. ``No one is more responsible for the downfall of Communism than Lady Margaret Thatcher,'' he said.

The Cuban exiles rewarded their heroine by naming a school for her at a university planned for post-Castro Havana. The Margaret Thatcher School of Democratic Government is to form part of the Universidad Latinoamerica de la Libertad Friedrich Von Hayek, named for the economist called the arch-guru of Thatcherite economics.

"I loathed Communism from the first time I read about it," Lady Thatcher told the Cubans. "Communism was a creed of the pseudo-intellectuals. Lenin was a pseudo-intellectual. I was astonished that it lasted 72 years."

While waiting for Castro to fall, the university will exist as a series of seminars on democracy and capitalism throughout the Americas. No pseudo-intellectuals allowed, presumably.

The five American astronauts on board the shuttle Discovery have a ``good luck charm'' with them in their fellow traveller, Vladimir Titov. The Russian cosmonaut has so far survived two brushes with disaster - on a Soviet launch pad in 1983, when smoke and flames engulfed his rocket, and in space in 1987, when his Soyuz capsule nearly collided with the Salyut 7 space station.

"Anyone who has seen the video of his rocket exploding and his ejection through the fireball knows what I'm talking about,'' said James Wetherbee, Discovery's commander. ``He's our good luck charm.'' So far, he has done all right for the Americans. Theirrendezvous with the Mir space station, where Titov spent 366 days beginning in December 1987, was flawless.

Stalking horses and dark horses are often candidates in election campaigns, but Edouard Balladur and Lionel Jospin face competition for the French presidency from Standing Horse. Real name Michel Adjiman, Standing Horse has dressed as an American Indian for the past 20 years and lives in wigwams with a nine-person tribe near Seillans-la-Cascade in south-eastern France.

"We must change our way of life and make a fundamental return to nature," he said as he launched his campaign for the Elysee Palace in the Cheyenne cafe in Draguignan.

What changes when the chairman of a firm that specialises in leveraged buyouts of service-oriented companies takes over the socially conscious Ben & Jerry's ice cream business? As the lucky man, Robert Holland Jr, put it: "I plan to get intimately involved with caramel, marshmallow, fudge, pecan, praline."