|PALIN vs. JOHNSTON
Call it the tussle on the tundra: America’s most famous Alaskans have been at each other’s throats ever since Levi Johnston left the Palin family home shortly after the birth of his son, Tripp, to Sarah Palin’s daughter, Bristol. In interviews and a tell-all article for Vanity Fair, Johnston paints a portrait of Sarah as a lazy, tempestuous, money-hungry egomaniac. Palin, meanwhile, has dismissed Bristol’s relationship with Johnston as a “mistake” and accused the 19-year-old newly minted Playgirl model of being a deadbeat on a “quest for fame, attention, and fortune.”
|PORT vs. COHEN
The Skanks in NYC blog was never destined for greatness. And yet its musings about Canadian-born model Liskula Cohen (right) made headlines after Cohen went to court to force Google to identify the anonymous blogger. Cohen eventually dropped her US$3-million defamation suit against Rosemary Port, the 29-year-old fashion student in question. Port, though, launched a US$15-million suit against Google, which she claims should have upheld her right to call someone a “psychotic lying whore” online.
|INDIA vs. SCOTLAND
It’s a fixture in Indian restaurants, but Glasgow chef Ahmed Aslam Ali says chicken tikka masala isn’t Indian at all—it’s Scottish. In fact, the 64-year-old founder of the Shish Mahal restaurant claims he invented it in the early 1970s. A Scottish MP is now taking the Scot’s claim one step further, trying to secure “protected designation of origin” status for the dish. Indian foodies have dismissed Ali’s claims as “preposterous,” and say chicken tikka masala is an “authentic Mughlai recipe” that’s been passed down for generations.
|VLADIMIR PUTIN vs. UKRAINE
When Ukraine missed a US$500-million payment for Russian gas in November, Russian PM Vladimir Putin was incensed. His Ukrainian counterpart, Yulia Tymoshenko, stepped in and negotiated a deal to guarantee gas deliveries. But Putin has since suggested Ukraine’s payment “problems” could be met with significant supply “problems.” And should Ukraine decide to siphon gas from shipments meant for Europe rather than buy it from Russia, he threatened, “we will cut supplies,” a tactic he already used last January.
|SEPARATIST vs. THE NATIONAL BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
When Quebec’s hard-core separatist fringe threatened to disrupt a re-enactment of the battle on the Plains of Abraham, Canada’s National Battlefields Commission simply cancelled the event altogether. “We don’t want it to become a clash,” André Juneau, then commission president, said by way of explanation. “There was one in 1759 and we don’t want another.” History, it seems, isn’t written by the winners, but by the whiners.
|BECKHAM vs. FANS
David Beckham probably knew better than to expect a warm welcome when he returned to L.A. for his first home game with Major League Soccer’s Galaxy. Despite his US$250-million contract, the star had skipped the Galaxy’s first 17 matches of the season, opting to play for an Italian club. But the reception was enough to leave Beckham wishing he’d stayed in Italy. Fed up with the taunts and boos, he tried to climb a barrier to get at an angry fan. Beckham claims he just wanted to shake hands; he was fined US$1,000 for the goodwill gesture.
|ATHEISTS vs. UNITED CHURCH
Last winter, Canadian atheists announced they would be buying ad space on buses to promote their message: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Rather than try to censor the message, the United Church of Canada opted to run a cheeky reply of its own: “There’s probably a God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Whatever impact the ads may have had, the real message may very well have been, “There’s probably no point arguing about religion on the sides of buses.”
|AMERICAN APPERAL vs. WOODY ALLEN
Woody Allen isn’t the first name that comes to most people’s minds when the topic of fashion models comes up. Still, no one was as surprised as Allen himself when his frumpish mug found its way onto an American Apparel billboard in 2007. Allen sued over the ad, which showed him dressed as an Orthodox Jew, with a caption, in Yiddish, calling him “the high rabbi.” They settled out of court in May for US$5 million.
|CHINA vs. RIO TINTO
Last July, Chinese officials arrested four employees of Australian mining giant Rio Tinto, accusing them of stealing state secrets. The arrests followed a failed bid by Chinalco, a state-owned Chinese manufacturer, to invest US$19.5 billion in the company. Rio Tinto, along with Australian officials, is still working to free Stern Hu, the company’s chief iron ore negotiator, but Chinese officials say their investigation isn’t complete.
Newsmakers '09: Feuds
The year’s most heated feuds