PEOPLE : Giuliani's potholes cost him a vote

An hour before his visa expired, the acknowledged star of the UN 50th-anniversary celebrations, Fidel Castro, left New York to the cheers of neighbours of the Cuban mission. They were happy that they could finally go home without being asked to show identification.

The Cuban leader, snubbed by Mayor Rudy Giuliani, proclaimed he ''would not vote for the mayor''. With a grin, Mr Castro continued: ''It's not just because he didn't invite me to dinner, but because on my way into town from the airport there were such enormous potholes.''

Mr Giuliani has also been lambasted by former mayor Ed Koch, who is Jewish, as a ''rude'' man with ''behavioural problems'' and by a PLO spokesman, Marwan Kanafani, as ''a puppet of the Jewish and Israeli lobby in the city of New York'' for having Yasser Arafat ejected from a New York Philharmonic concert on Monday.

The PLO leader took his time departing 30 minutes before the performance ended. He stayed through Beethoven's Ode to Joy, which extols the brotherhood of man.

Egypt's Industry Minister, Ibrahim Fawzi, has presented a car to the Bosnian ambassador in Cairo. The financially strapped ex-Yugoslav republic did not own an embassy vehicle, and its envoy, Avdija Hadrovic, has had to rely on public transport to get around the city.

After Mr Hadrovic was late for an appointment because he could not find a taxi and had to take one of Cairo's over-crowded buses, Mr Fawzi appealed to car manufacturers for a donated vehicle. The gift was presented at a reception this week.

The ill Boris Yeltsin has much on his mind these days: his health, the future of democracy in Russia, how to walk the line between co-operation with the West and, in his nationalist opponents' eyes, selling out to the US and Nato. And there is Brigitte Bardot.

The animal-rights activist has written to ''Yelt-stalin, polluter of the world with your crumbling and unsafe nuclear plants contaminating your population", on the "decadent barbarity'' of Russian reindeer hunting.

''By repulsively slaughtering these animals, allowing the last herds of reindeer fleeing the ice of the Great North to be exterminated, you show the world the portrait of a despicable country,'' Ms Bardot wrote. ''Between the extermination gulags of baby seals on the White Sea, an utter genocide of innocence, and the ignoble butchery of the last reindeer herds, you demonstrate in monstrous fashion what is most vile and base in mankind.''

MARYANN BIRD

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