People: PhD for bank's man of marble

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IN Haifa on Sunday night Jacques Attali, head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, was awarded a doctorate of philosophy for his 'outstanding contributions to economics and his exemplary public service'.

Mr Attali is also well known for his decision to spend more money reconstructing the bank's London headquarters with mirrored ceilings and opulent marble than rebuilding the battered economies of Eastern Europe. He has also been criticised for alleged plagiarism in his book Verbatim, purporting to be his own record of conversations with President Francois Mitterrand of France. A spokeswoman for Haifa University said that since Mr Attali was not facing legal action the university senate had decided to uphold the degree.

The debate in Australia over whether sharks should be a protected species continues in the wake of the latest death, when a Tasmanian mother of quadruplets, THERESE CARTWRIGHT, was attacked and killed by an 11ft white pointer on Saturday while her husband and the quads watched helplessly from a boat.

But the star of Jaws has its defenders on dry land. 'White pointers are an important part of the marine ecosystem,' said John Stevens, a marine biologist. He surmised that the shark thought Mrs Cartwright was a seal. 'It was probably a case of mistaken identity.'

Teaming up together again soon will be a duo from the Eighties, JIMMY CARTER, the former US president, and George G Schira, former director of the Carter Presidential Center. This time, however, they will be on opposite sides of a courtoom, with Mr Schira in the dock and Mr Carter a witness for the prosecution. George and Jimmy travelled the world together until April 1987 when Mr Schira was suddenly sacked.

According to the indictment, he then took to ringing people up, impersonating Mr Carter and asking for large sums of money to bail out the presidential centre. His mastery of that plaintive southern drawl must have been complete. At least dollars 500,000 was deposited, on his instruction, in a London account at the Bank of Credit and Commerce International.

The Pope has appointed CARDINAL BERNARDIN GANTIN as head of the College of Cardinals, whose main role after the death of a pope is to steer the conclave towards a suitable replacement and then ensure that the smoke from the Sistine chimney is the right colour. Cardinal Gantin, aged 71, is the first African to hold the post.

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One of India's most revered holy men, SAI BABA, survived an assassination attempt on Sunday. The elderly guru, who has a following of millions around the world, is credited with healing and magical powers and his followers smear their foreheads with ash from his photographs to ward off evil.

And who's to say it doesn't work? Four men set about Sai Baba with carving knives but he escaped without a scratch. His assailants were not so lucky. They were shot dead by police.

ELIZABETH TAYLOR's husband, the former truck driver Larry Fortensky, lost a Supreme Court appeal yesterday against his drunken-driving conviction.

The court, without comment, rejected Mr Fortensky's argument that an anonymous tip to police was not a valid reason to stop him.

And from the shadow of a famous wife to the shadow of a famous father . . . President LECH WALESA's son Slawomir was yesterday found guilty of reckless driving and given a two-year suspended jail sentence, after his car mounted the pavement and injured a woman in Gdansk.

'The sentence was not influenced by the fact that he was a close relative of President Lech Walesa,' Judge Marta Majkowska said. His defence lawyer, Jacek Taylor, begged to differ. 'The sentence was harsher than usually passed in similar circumstances,' he said.

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