Pandora

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The Independent Online
Indecent charge

AS A RESULT of his Easter disruption of the Archbishop of Canterbury's sermon, gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell is due to appear in Canterbury Magistrate's Court on Friday. The Crown Prosecution Service has changed its original charge of "violent behaviour" to one of "indecent behaviour" under the Ecclesiastical Courts Jurisdiction Act of 1860. Tatchell, who faces two months in prison and who will defend himself in court, told Pandora yesterday, "I was held in a police cell for seven hours while they looked for a suitable offence with which to charge me".

He is very concerned lest people now think "I behaved indecently towards the Archbishop". Tatchell has threatened to subpoena Dr. George Carey in order to establish that his behaviour was not in any way violent or, presumably, "indecent". However, Tatchell himself is bringing charges against a Canterbury Cathedral official who allegedly punched him. When Pandora rang Lambeth Palace and asked for the Archbishop's thoughts on the Tatchell case, in specific, and church service protests, in general, their press spokesman said that the Archbishop had never made a statement on the subject in the past. Could he not please say something now, Pandora requested. "Unfortunately, he's in Uganda at the moment."

Pray it opens

WHILE we are on holy ground, word has reached Pandora of a remarkable achievement. According to Russian newswire Itar-Tass, a Russian Orthodox priest has become the first clergyman to reach the North Pole via parachute. Immediately upon landing, Father Viktor Smetannikov planted a cross in the ice and commenced praying. According to the Father Viktor, "The pole has a purifying power. It is an exceptional place on the globe and God doesn't allow everyone to go there." However, he added a cautionary note to any other pilgrims tempted to follow in his footsteps. "Praying at the North Pole doesn't seem particularly beneficial."

Ask Camille

And, finally, into cyberspace where the loopy neo-feminist American Camille Paglia, known for her outrageous quotes, outdid herself yesterday in her Web column. While praising Tom Cruise's "boyish beauty" and "splendid body of achievement", she continued, "He is certainly more robustly masculine that that chicken-hearted, butter-nosed baby dyke, Leonardo DiCaprio." Baby dyke? Is Leonardo Dutch?

King's rescue

MOVING from the sacred to the profane, boxing promoter Don King is standing trial in Manhattan for allegedly defrauding Lloyd's with a bogus $350,000 insurance claim. The explosively-coiffed King was tried once before on the Lloyd's charge, in 1995. That case ended with a hung jury. Now King may walk free a second time after the prosecution's star witness, former super lightweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez, suddenly decided - right in the middle of his testimony - that it was an ideal time to return to Mexico, despite the kidnapping charge awaiting him on his arrival. Never a dull moment when Don's around.

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