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Not One Doubting Thomas There

--A group of charities honored White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu at a weekend dinner, and President Bush dropped by briefly to add some praise to that from the ballroom full of guests. The hosts of the dinner were the St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and the American-Lebanese-Syrian Associated Charities. Sununu is of Lebanese descent, and among the guests at the black-tie affair was entertainer Danny Thomas, also of Lebanese extraction, who founded St. Jude’s hospital in 1962. With Sununu and Thomas was another person of Lebanese descent, United Press International reporter Helen Thomas. Bush spoke of his “deep affection for Lebanon” and referred to the turmoil there. " . . . I expect every American looks at Lebanon today with agony in his heart and concern, hoping that he or she in some way can find a way to make a difference,” the President said. Bush also said he had learned a lot about his top aide in the first months of his Administration and told the crowd: “He is a class act.”

--Victor Emmanuel, son of the last Italian king, renewed an effort to end his 43-year exile and return from Switzerland with his own son, Emmanuel Filiberto, who he hopes can attend an Italian military academy and university. Italian newspapers published a letter from Emmanuel to Italian President Francesco Cossiga in which he recognized the Italian republic for the first time, but he also said he was not relinquishing his claim to the throne last held by his father, King Umberto II. Italy’s 1947 constitution forbids the entry of Emmanuel and his heirs, and to change the ban would require approval of a two-thirds majority of both houses of Parliament. The widow of Umberto II, former Queen Maria Jose, has visited Italy occasionally since the government lifted the ban on her return in 1987.

--The University of Iowa’s Hancher Auditorium launched an effort to silence some discordant notes during its concerts. Ailing audience members are being asked to squelch their coughs with free cough drops from the ushers, or to retire to a soundproof observation room where they can wheeze and sneeze without ruining the music. Japanese pianist Mitsuko Uchida was disturbed by persistent coughing from the audience during her performance at the hall in Iowa City. So the program for a recent appearance by violinist Isaac Stern urged the crowd, dubbed the Hancher Hackers by a local newspaper, to keep things quiet. The hall’s marketing director, Judith Hurtig, said the effort seems to have worked, with performances now notable for the audience’s stillness.


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