The Great Pretender

It is time for the evening news, Soviet style. The camera focuses on a man with a battered purple baseball cap as he chats with local factory workers. With a friendly, lopsided grin, he says in passable Russian, "Well, I'm just a simple worker." He switches to English and adds through a Soviet interpreter, "I'm ashamed to say it about my country, but in New York there are 60,000 people without a roof over their heads."

Moscow's new media celebrity is Joseph Mauri, 58, of New York City, who has become something of a regular on Vremya (Time) during his expense-paid...

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