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By WILLIAM C. TROTT United Press International

MADONNA'S DEFENSE: Madonna had a biblical comeback for the people in Italy who say her act is blasphemous. 'If you are sure I am a sinner, let whoever is without sin throw the first stone,' she told journalists who mobbed her upon arrival from Paris at a Rome airport in a private jet. Madonna, whose grandparents came to the United States from Italy, was raised a Catholic but protesters want to stop her shows in Rome and Turin because of the way she uses crucifixes and other sacred symbols in her act. Madonna, dressed in black and a string of pearls, asserted that she was proud of her Italian ancestry and had a handwritten statement that said: 'I am aware that the Vatican and some Catholic communities are accusing my show of being sinful and blasphemous. But I ask you, fair-minded men and women of the Catholic Church -- Come and see my show and judge it for yourselves. My show is not a conventional rock concert but a theatrical presentation of my music and, like the theater, it poses questions, provokes thought and takes you on an emotional journey.'NEWLN:

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SINGING COMES FIRST: Cher is in the midst of a grueling 80-city worldwide tour but she still prefers performing to acting. 'Making movies is really boring,' says Cher, who performed in Cleveland suburb of Richfield Monday night, 'You have to get up at 6 in the morning and sit in a trailer all day and 12 hours later you've only filmed two pages of dialogue. I'm really enjoying touring this time out. In the past, it terrified me but now I'm just more comfortable with it.' The guitar player in her backup band has some excellent musical genes -- Elijah Allman , Cher's son by ex-husband Gregg Allman .NEWLN:

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LOT OF YEN: Railroads and real estate have been very good to Yoshiaki Tsutsumi , who is still the richest businessman in the world. Forbes magazine says Tsutsumi's $16 billion fortune puts him atop the annual billionaire's list for the fourth straight year while another Japanese real estate man, Taikichiro Mori , was second. Sam Walton , founder of the Wal-Mart stores chain, and his family ranked third with a combined $13.3 billion while the du Pont family was fourth with $10 billion. Other Americans on the list of 271 individuals and families with more than $1 billion in net assets include John Werner Kluge , whose $5.2 billion makes him the richest individual American, financier Warren Edward Buffett , publishers S.I. and Donald Newhouse , H. Ross Perot , Harry Helmsley , Ted Turner , Laurence and Preston Tisch , Carl Icahn , Rupert Murdoch and David Rockefeller . There was no mention of Donald Trump on the list but Medellin cocaine cartel leader Pablo Escobar Gaviria made it with $3 billion.NEWLN:

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TRUMPED AGAIN: There's more trouble for Donald Trump . The New York Post reports that the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating Trump Air, a helicopter service that shuttles gamblers to Atlantic City, N.J., because of a rash of firings and accusations of financial improprieties. The Post reported that five pilots were fired last month, along with the chief operating officer and the director of flight operations, and an FAA spokesman told the Post it would watch the service to ensure there are enough employees to provide safe service. In addition, last month security representatives from the Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City demanded to inspect Trump Air's books. Nonetheless, Trump seemed to enjoy himself during the weekend at another of his casinos when he drove headliner Roseanne Barr onto the stage in an antique car.NEWLN:

BARRY'S WEEKEND: Embattled Washington Mayor Marion Barry spent some time during the weekend with James Usry , who faces charges of corruption resulting from his tenure as mayor of Atlantic City, N.J. Like his old friend Barry, Usry is black and says racism played a part in his arrest, too. Barry, who was secretly videotaped by police smoking crack cocaine in January, said he was in Atlantic City to relax and he and Usry joined their wives Sunday at church services. Later, Barry went to a boxing match at Harrah's Marina Hotel Casino. Usry is charged with accepting a $6,000 bribe from a police informant and was defeated in his re-election bid last month.

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