By Anne Kingston - Thursday, December 1, 2011 - 21 Comments
Will and Kate give the monarchy new blood and relevance. They gave everyone else a love story to remember.
In a year riven by political turmoil, economic malaise and rioting in the streets, a young, fresh-faced couple formally titled the duke and duchess of Cambridge (but affectionately known as Will and Kate) provided ongoing romantic relief—and distraction. The photogenic pair delighted the masses and were a boon to the media that tracked their every move, real and speculative. Their wedding gave the British economy—along with fascinator sales—a bump. More, it injected a much-needed adrenalin boost to the British royal family itself. Dutifully, smilingly, the duo restored a patina of glamour and vitality to an institution tarnished by divorce, scandal and tragedy.
Details of the preparations for their April 29 nuptials were meted out like a slow IV morphine drip on www.princeofwales.gov.uk: the Westminster Abbey venue, the guest list, the name of the wedding cake decorator. An estimated two billion people tuned in to watch the ceremony, a pitch-perfect spectacle of royal pomp amid government-mandated austerity. Millions clogged the streets, among them Jean Seaton, a professor of media history at the University of Westminster, who views the occasion as a rare moment of British unity: “People were enjoying it as a kind of celebration of themselves,” she says.
Part of the cheer stemmed from the faith that the couple’s love match was real, not staged like the prince’s parents’. The union of the blond son of a beloved princess to a comely commoner also suggested Buck House was evolving with the times. There was no discussion of virginity: the couple had lived together for eight years. The bride, derisively dubbed “Waity Katie” by the press before her engagement, proved her mettle over the years, coping with paparazzi and gossip. Her unwavering determination to play the role she now has, once a source of criticism, is her greatest strength—one necessary to navigate an institution known to destroy the women who enter it. “It’s a much more negotiated, tested entry [than Diana’s],” says Seaton, the BBC’s ofﬁcial historian. “She knows—to the extent she can—what she’s getting into.”
By Mika Rekai - Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 5:00 AM - 0 Comments
Disney’s princess dust-up, a Star-Strangled Banner, and Canada’s next basketball superstar makes his choice
A slam-dunk decision
The waiting game is over for America’s top college basketball teams: one of the most-hyped recruits in years, the Canadian basketball phenom Andrew Wiggins, is going to Kansas. The six-foot-eight, 18-year-old forward and Toronto native passed over Florida State—the alma mater of both his parents—Kentucky and North Carolina, and will don a Jayhawks jersey come the fall, a decision that left coach Bill Self with what he called a “kind of surreal feeling.” Wiggins has been compared to the likes of LeBron James and is known for a blend of athleticism and effortless style on the court. Kansas, whose basketball program was founded by James Naismith, the Canadian-born inventor of the game, “felt like the place for me,” Wiggins said. But he’s only expected to stay for the year—he’s the heavy favourite for the top spot in the 2014 NBA draft.
Learn your ABZs
U.S. President Barack Obama joked at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner that he had “99 problems” and rapper Jay-Z, who had recently taken a controversial trip to Cuba with superstar wife Beyoncé Knowles, was one. Now it looks like the Obamas might well become a problem for Jay-Z, if first lady Michelle Obama’s remarks at Bowie State University in Maryland are any indication. At a commencement ceremony, she told graduates of the historically black university to “be an example of excellence to the next generation” instead of “fantasizing about being a baller or a rapper.” That’s career advice that might rufﬂe the feathers of Jay-Z, a high-school dropout who hosted a $40,000-a-head fundraiser for the president during his last campaign.
By Martin Patriquin, Nicholas Kohler, Emily Senger and Michael Barclay - Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 3:48 PM - 0 Comments
Top stories from the week
Free at last
Long ago given up for dead, three Cleveland women—Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus—escaped from the house where they had allegedly been held captive for 10 years; nine in DeJesus’s case. All had been teenagers when they went missing. Berry’s six-year-old daughter was also discovered in the house, which is owned by one of three brothers now in custody. “If you don’t believe in miracles, think again,” said Sandra Ruiz, DeJesus’s aunt. The hero of the day is neighbour Charles Ramsey, who heard a woman struggling in the house, where he thought a man lived alone. He found Berry trying to push through a door and assumed it was a domestic dispute. When he went to help her break free, she told him to call 911. When one reporter asked if he knew there were women in the home, Ramsey answered: “No, because I woulda pulled this heroic stuff last year!”
Former Philippine ﬁrst lady Imelda Marcos—known for her extravagant lifestyle and thousands of shoes—is campaigning to hold onto her congressional seat in the May 13 elections. Marcos, who represents a district in the family’s home province of Ilocos Norte, fled the Philippines with her husband, Ferdinand, after he was ousted from power, leaving a horrific record of human rights abuses and corruption. The so-called Steel Butterﬂy, who returned from exile in Hawaii after her husband’s death in 1989, first ran for office in 2010, and heads up an unlikely political dynasty: her daughter governs a province and her son is a national senator.
By Ken MacQueen - Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 2:00 PM - 0 Comments
Prince Philip gets the Order of Canada, Bush gets a library and Obama gets a basketball
Sorry, Jeb. Mom says ‘No.’
Four living U.S. presidents paid tribute last week to No. 43 at the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas. Nary a harsh word was spoken about the Decider, although in a recent interview with the Dallas News, he joked that “some people are surprised I can even read.” The briefest speech came from the frail George H.W. Bush Sr., “41,” as his son called him. Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all praised Bush Jr.’s help in fighting AIDS in Africa. Obama credited his resolve after 9/11 and called him comfortable in his own skin. Bush is urging his younger brother, Jeb Bush, to take a run at the presidency in 2016. But Barbara Bush, matriarch of the clan, says dynasties shouldn’t control the White House: “We’ve had enough Bushes.”
Commuters emerging at the 66th Street stop in New York’s subway last Thursday found a better class of busker. On the platform was crooner Michael Bublé and the a capella group Naturally 7, his frequent touring partners, doing a moving version of the Jackson 5 classic Who’s Lovin’ You. He was surrounded in a New York minute by a camera-phone-wielding contingent of female fans. No one threw him loose change, but Bublé, in town to promote To Be Loved, his new album, called subway singing “the most authentic, organic way to make music.” He was certainly more animated than in the photo of him posted by his pregnant wife, Luisana Lopilato, where his face was frozen under a concrete-like cosmetic facial pack. The things one does for love.
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 4:10 PM - 0 Comments
The luckiest man alive keeps running, Witherspoon plays the fame card and Nova Scotia mourns MacNeil
Scouting the royal bump
Catherine, the duchess of Cambridge, isn’t due until mid-July, but the future queen is starting to show. This week she mingled during a review of Scouts at Windsor Castle.
Blessed art thou
Joe Berti may be the world’s luckiest man. Just seconds after crossing the finish line at the Boston Marathon last week, bombs began exploding around him. Amy, his wife, who was there to see him race, was hit by shrapnel, but was not badly injured. Two days later, shortly after arriving home in Texas, Joe’s car was rocked as he drove past the fertilizer plant explosion in West, which has left as many as 15 dead. “We need to keep him moving,” says Amy. “Maybe he just needs to stand in an open field.”
Gritty Pittsburgh Penguins winger Matt Cooke has earned his reputation as one of the NHL’s dirtiest players. But it’s fans of the Ottawa Senators who might bear him the most animus. During a mid-February tilt, Cooke stepped on the leg of star Sens defenceman Erik Karlsson, slicing through his Achilles tendon. The incident not only derailed Karlsson’s MVP-type season, it left the team struggling to make the playoffs. And Ottawa owner Eugene Melnyk was so enraged he hired a forensic investigator to try and prove that the skate cut was deliberate. Last week, the two teams met again and Sens fans staged a “hate fest” for Cooke, complete with wanted posters and taunting signs. All the noise seemed to have little effect. The Pens won 3-1, and Cooke collected an assist.
Leave them laughing
Rita MacNeil came to fame relatively late—winning a Juno for most promising vocalist at age 42 in 1987. But in her three-decade musical career she touched a lot of hearts. Last week, fans, politicians and her compatriots packed a church in Big Pond, N.S., to bid adieu to the Cape Breton songstress, who died at 68, from complications following surgery. There were tributes to her sweet voice and even sweeter nature. But it was MacNeil’s sense of humour that made the biggest impression. Her daughter Laura Lewis broke up the crowd with the handwritten instructions that her heavy-set mother had left behind. “Upon my death, I would want to be cremated immediately, my ashes to be placed in my tea room teapot. Two, if necessary.”
A lesson in cowardice
An heir to the world’s biggest beermaker resigned his lifetime membership in the National Rifle Association (NRA) this week, calling the U.S. organization a tool of the gun industry. Adolphus Busch IV, one of the NRA’s most prominent members, was outraged with the NRA’s role in blocking federal U.S. legislation that would have limited the size of ammunition magazines and expanded background checks. In a letter to the NRA, Busch wrote that its “distorted values” place “a priority on the needs of gun and ammunition manufacturers.” Gabby Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman shot point-blank in Tucson two years ago, was also disgusted by the bill’s failure, but reserved her ire for cowardly U.S. senators. A minority “gave in to fear” in blocking “common-sense legislation,” she wrote in a scathing New York Times piece.
Reese falling to pieces
It’s never a good idea for celebrities to play the “Don’t you know who I am” card. And even more so when they’re dealing with a cop. It’s a lesson that Reese Witherspoon learned the hard way when she was charged with disorderly conduct by Atlanta police last week, after having taken issue with an officer who was arresting her husband, Jim Toth, on suspicion of driving under the influence. With gossip sites happily splashing the pair’s mug shots, as well as her handcuffed “perp walk” into the station, the Oscar-winning actress issued a contrite apology. “I clearly had one drink too many, and I’m embarrassed about the things I said,” read the statement. “I have nothing but respect for the police, and I’m very sorry for my behaviour.”
Somewhere over the rainbow
A New Zealand MP became an unlikely global star last week, after a speech supporting the country’s legalization of gay marriage went viral. Libertarian MP Maurice Williamson told opponents: “The sun will still rise tomorrow, your teenage daughter will still argue back with you as if she knows everything, your mortgage will not grow, you will not have skin diseases or rashes or toads in your bed. The world will just carry on.” Noting that it was pouring rain in his Pakuranga riding—contrary to claims New Zealand’s drought could be blamed on the marriage equality bill—he cited the appearance of “the most enormous big gay rainbow” as a sign his side was right. After adopting the bill, members of the Kiwi House—and the visitors sitting above them—burst into a spontaneous rendition of the Maori love song Pokarekare Ana, serenading the bill’s sponsor, lesbian MP Louisa Wall.
Hell hath no fury . . .
Mark Sanford’s scorned ex-wife Jenny denied, last week, that she had leaked court filings revealing that the former South Carolina governor had trespassed at her home earlier this year. But the politician’s humiliated ex is no dunce; as a political spouse, Jenny would certainly have known that by filing the papers in the midst of a hotly contested campaign, they would eventually make it into the press, curtailing Sanford’s comeback attempt. Republicans cut Sanford loose last week; just hours after the papers went public, the National Republican Congressional Committee announced it was halting spending on his campaign. Sanford’s career—and his 20-year marriage—were derailed four years ago, when he claimed to be hiking the Appalachian Trail, but was in fact visiting his Argentine mistress. In the May 7 vote, a race that has grabbed the national spotlight, he’ll face the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert, Elizabeth Colbert Busch.
Newfoundland and Labrador MHA Gerry Rogers found herself shut out of the provincial legislature last week after refusing to apologize for her Facebook friends. It seems the New Democrat joined a group dedicated to unseating Premier Kathy Dunderdale, in which some members had labelled the Tory leader a “terrorist” and mused about her being shot. Rogers says she’s not responsible for what others write. And Dunderdale is now dealing with her own online scandal after the CBC checked out her Twitter account and found that the premier was following a porn site. They sure do politics differently downhome.
Was it a white Ford Bronco?
Pakistan had its O.J. Simpson moment last week. Pervez Musharraf, the country’s former president and military leader, fled a courtroom after judges ordered his arrest on charges of treason. Musharraf dashed from the Islamabad High Court in a black SUV, leading the media on a slow-speed chase that ended at his fortified villa in an exclusive neighbourhood; there, aides say, he relaxed, smoking cigars. But he appeared ashen-faced the following day when he was arrested by police—marking a new low for the former army chief, who held absolute power for over a decade. Musharraf, who faces charges of failing to provide adequate security to former prime minister Benazir Bhutto before her 2007 assassination, claims the allegations are “politically motivated.” “Truth,” he said, “will eventually prevail.”
Now that’s snail mail
Twenty-eight years ago, a Nova Scotia lad penned a message to a lady friend, carefully rolled it into a bottle, and tossed it into the sea. Last week, the message was finally found—8,000 km from Atlantic Canada, on the banks of a Croatian river. “Mary,” he wrote, “you really are a great person. I hope we can keep in correspondence. I said I would write. Your friend always—Jonathon, Nova Scotia, 1985.” Kite surfer Matea Rezik, who discovered the sentimental note after the bottle washed up on the banks of the Neretva River, posted a photo of it on Facebook, in hopes of reaching either Jonathon or Mary.
By Kate Lunau - Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Bieber brushes up on his history, Big Ben takes a rare break and a comic hero comes out of the transgender closet
Holy diversity, Batman
In the latest issue of Batgirl, a character named Alysia Yeoh reveals she’s transgendered, and her roommate, Barbara Gordon, a.k.a. Batgirl, responds with a hug. The storyline was created by writer Gail Simone, who notes that the world of comic-book superheroes is becoming more diverse. In 2012, Green Lantern revealed he is gay, and that same year, Northstar (the first superhero to come out, in 1992) married his long-time partner, Kyle. Batwoman, who headlines her own title, is a lesbian. Diversity is “the issue for superhero comics,” Simone told Wired, noting that many of her industry’s most recognizable characters were dreamed up half a century ago, when sexuality and gender issues were treated much differently. If writers were to simply build around those characters, “then we look like an episode of The Andy Griffith Show for all eternity.”
Nicolás Madurohas been elected president of Venezuela by a far narrower margin than his supporters had predicted, in a vote that his opponent, Henrique Capriles, says is “illegitimate.” Maduro was anointed candidate for the ruling United Socialist Party last month, following the death of his flamboyant and controversial predecessor, Hugo Chávez. Maduro promised to carry on Chávez’s “Bolívarian Revolution,” which funnelled state resources to Venezuela’s neglected poor but also wrecked the country’s economy and politicized its public service and state institutions. Maduro won 50.7 per cent of the vote against 49.1 per cent for Capriles. Maduro said they show that Chávez “continues to be invincible, that he continues to win battles.”
By Jonathon Gatehouse, Martin Patriquin and Jaime J. Weinman - Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 3:34 PM - 0 Comments
Names in the news
A regime vacation
Jay-Z and Beyoncé Knowles’s choice of Cuba for a few ﬂashbulb-streaked days off raised hackles in the U.S., which has had an embargo against the island country since 1960. Though the trip was cleared with the U.S. Treasury and therefore legal, critics wondered why one of the most famous couples in the world would visit a country with such an appalling human rights record. “There are a lot of better places they could go where they’re not feeding a monstrous regime,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, of Florida.
The bloom is off
Prince William may have to brush up on his ability to appeal to children before his wife has a baby. On a trip to Glasgow, Scotland, the prince tried to kiss a four-year-old Scottish girl in a princess costume, and the girl pulled away from him and hugged her mother for support, refusing to allow him near her or to give him the flower she was holding. William laughed it off and the girl handed the flower to Kate. The girl’s mother claimed she didn’t have anything personal against William, but simply “got really shy.”
Today’s special: prejudice
Dave Claringbould says rural Manitoba is not the friendliest place for an openly gay businessman. Claringbould and his partner started the Pots N Hands restaurant in the small town of Morris, near Winnipeg, only to announce four months later that they were closing down: they had received insults, including a customer who asked if he would catch sexually transmitted diseases from their food, and other customers stopped coming after finding out about their relationship. The publicity might save the restaurant, though; the premier of the province, Greg Selinger, has announced that he will eat there as a show of support for tolerance.
By Patricia Treble - Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
Beckham takes China, Jennifer Capriati resurfaces, and George W. Bush shows off a new skill
The Internet issued a collective gasp last week at news that the creative force behind its favourite science page, I F***ing Love Science, is a woman. Elise Andrew’s deﬁant, funny and profane manner had apparently led the site’s more than 4.2 million fans to believe it was the product of a male mind. Predictably, her reveal prompted an onslaught of sexist comments, from “Are there kitchens in space?” to endless threads on her looks. “EVERY COMMENT is about how shocking it is that I’m a woman! Is this really 2013?”Andrew tweeted in response—but her case is hardly unique. Legions of female tech writers and bloggers are posting under male pseudonyms; the issue has even forced academic panels on the “perils of blogging as a woman under a real name.” It’s been more than 150 years since Mary Anne Evans wrote as George Eliot to ensure her work was taken seriously. On the web, Evans’s act of desperation is the apparent norm.
Knocking on heaven’s door
Justin Welby’s installation as archbishop of Canterbury last week was traditional, but his rise to lead the world’s 77 million Anglicans was anything but. The Eton-educated former oil executive didn’t become a priest until 36, then used his business moxie to grow a succession of dying congregations. While preaching a strong commitment to Christianity, he also trekked through the world’s hot spots, including Nigeria, promoting conciliation. He’ll need those skills when dealing with a fractious Church, split on issues like gay marriage and female bishops. As pundits have quipped, today’s religious leaders need to be “Jesus Christ with an M.B.A.” The Anglicans may have found just that.
By Nancy Macdonald - Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 9:38 AM - 0 Comments
Patrick Chan’s hat trick, Kim Campbell’s condo, Gwyneth Paltrow’s diet and Canada’s NBA takeover
It ain’t easy being a Mao
Serial laughingstock Mao Xinyu—Mao Zedong’s only grandson—made an appearance at China’s annual rubber-stamp parliament, which wrapped up this week in Beijing. The beefy fortysomething is at almost comical odds with new President Xi Jinping’s efforts to revamp the government’s reputation for bloat and indulgence. Mao, who is dyslexic and known to speak in slow, almost childlike sentences, is the People’s Liberation Army’s youngest major-general, and has advanced degrees from numerous prestigious universities. “Please take my proposal seriously,” he pleaded in Beijing after tabling a proposal to apply Mao Zedong’s strategic ideas to cyberwarfare. “I took much time in preparing it.”
Sending a message
The White House insisted on inviting Yityish Aynaw—Israel’s first black beauty queen—to a gala dinner celebrating U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to the Holy Land this week. The 21-year-old’s crowning last month marked a significant step forward for Israel. The country—founded as a refuge from anti-Semitic persecution—has long treated its Jewish Ethiopian émigrés as second-class citizens, or worse: this year, the Israeli health ministry is slated to begin an inquiry into allegations that black Falasha Jews were unwittingly injected with a contraceptive to limit their numbers.
By Emily Senger - Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 6:00 PM - 0 Comments
Dennis Rodman’s next trip, Chris Hadfield gets keys to the spaceship, and Russia’s evil dancer heads to court
When life imitates art
Bolshoi Ballet star Pavel Dmitrichenko, famed for his portrayal of villains on stage, claimed from a Moscow court last week that while he sanctioned an attack on Sergei Filin, the company’s artistic director, he did not expect his hired thug to throw acid in the man’s face. Asked whether he wished to apologize to Filin, Dmitrichenko defiantly replied: “For what?”
They should write a song about it
Taylor Swift often laments her tragic love life, but Swift’s fans are all too happy to shower her with adoration. Now it seems not all of their messages are making it into the pop princess’s hands. A Nashville resident, Kylee Francescan, reportedly found stacks upon stacks of unopened letters addressed to Swift and covered in glitter, photos and stickers behind a school dumpster. When the local news team investigated, Swift’s people said the mail was likely mixed up with another batch of fan mail destined for the recycle depot. With Swift receiving “thousands of fan letters everyday,” it seems her problem may be too much love, not the opposite.
By Emily Senger, Ken MacQueen, and Manisha Krishnan - Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 3:00 PM - 0 Comments
Peter MacKay makes the Forces fitter, Romney reminisces, and will Bieber head to space?
Out with a bang
The now former Groupon CEO Andrew Mason is known for being a bit eccentric—a reputation he upheld on his way out. “After 4½ intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding—I was fired today,” Mason wrote in a letter to staff last week. “I’m OK with having failed at this part of the journey,” he added. But don’t cry for the Groupon founder. Getting fired made him $34 million richer this week—Mason owns seven per cent of Groupon’s stock, which rose five per cent in the days following his exit.
David Beckham bragged about doing all of his own stunts for his action-packed H&M commercial, but when it came to flashing a close-up of his bottom, he let a body double take over. The soccer star repeatedly denied using a stand-in for the Guy Ritchie-directed underwear ad—which shows him sprinting, swimming and jumping hedges, all in his gitch—but H&M ﬁnally came clean last week: “Due to the tightness of Beckham’s schedule, a body double was used in parts of the video.”
Out of this world
Having conquered Earth, at least in the eyes of his fans, Justin Bieber shared his next ambition with his 30-million-odd Twitter followers last week: “I wanna do a concert in space,” he wrote. The space agency NASA was quick to tweet a reply, referencing one of his hit songs: “Maybe we can help you with that. All Around the World, next off it?” Whether the Bieb gets to be an astronaut or not, he’s clearly training for something. After a concert in Birmingham, England, last week, he bee-lined to his hotel to change for his 19th birthday bash. He just happened to strut into his hotel with his shirt off, displaying an impressive ab six-pack.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, March 3, 2013 at 7:00 AM - 0 Comments
Dennis Rodman takes North Korea, Berlusconi rises again, and a dictator’s daughter takes over in Seoul
Bagman on the stand
Nicolo Milioto, construction magnate and alleged bagman for Montreal’s infamous Rizzuto Mafia clan, took the stand at an inquiry into Quebec’s construction industry last week. Milioto, known as “Mr. Sidewalk” for his uncanny ability to nab municipal construction jobs, stated his name and occupation—and very little else. According to one newspaper’s tally, the bullet-headed Milioto said, “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember” 522 times during his testimony. He said he was insulted to be associated with the Mafia, saying he was but a friend of since-assassinated don Nick Rizzuto. It’s a surprise he remembered that much.
Former NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman is trying his hand at “basketball diplomacy” in North Korea. News that “the Worm,” as he was once known, had made it into the Hermit Kingdom to film a documentary arrived via Twitter: “It’s true, I’m in North Korea. Looking forward to sitting down with Kim Jong Un,” he said. The sentiment may be shared: growing up, Kim Jong Un, the country’s young dictator, was a huge fan of Rodman’s ’90s-era Chicago Bulls.
Enter Mr. Fixit
SNC-Lavalin Group hired a new chief compliance officer last week to help clean up the embattled engineering giant in the wake of a bribery scandal. (Two former SNC executives—former CEO Pierre Duhaime and Riadh Ben Aissa—face fraud charges relating to the firm’s contract to design, build and maintain the McGill University Health Centre’s new $1.3-billion hospital.) SNC’s incoming CCO, German executive Andreas Pohlmann, has acted as a go-to for scandal-plagued companies: he was brought in to fix Siemens after a $2-billion bribery scandal in 2006. Next, he headed up the compliance unit at German engineering firm Ferrostaal in 2010, after a bribery scandal there.
By Emily Senger - Monday, February 18, 2013 at 7:00 PM - 0 Comments
A roommate crisis for the Vancouver Canucks, a new home for Richard III, and Mandela granddaughters hit reality TV
Far from the tree
Anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela was famously South Africa’s first black president, and now his granddaughters are seeking fame of their own as stars of a new reality-TV series. Being Mandela follows Zaziwe Dlamini-Manaway and Swati Dlamini, granddaughters of the Nobel Peace Prize winner and his ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. During the 13-episode first season, Swati and Zaziwe launch their own clothing line, which shares a name with their grandfather’s autobiography—Long Walk to Freedom. The two insist they aren’t tarnishing the family name; Mandela “loves Toddlers and Tiaras,” Swati told the Associated Press. He won’t be appearing on the show—although Winnie will.
Kapow! A breakthrough.
Batman is now more than 70 years old—and last year, Montreal-based comic artist Becky Cloonan became the first woman ever to draw him for DC Comics, according to a recent profile in O, The Oprah Magazine. Batman isn’t the only character Cloonan, 32, brings to life: she also draws Conan the Barbarian for Dark Horse Comics, and Swamp Thing for DC and is credited for breaking new ground for women in the comics world. When she first got the Batman gig, “I was just excited,” she told the magazine. “I’m drawing Batman!”
By Emily Senger, Jaime Weinman, Jonathon Gatehouse, and Mika Rekai - Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 7:00 PM - 0 Comments
Obama gets caught in “Skeetgate” and HMV learns the power of social media
Shorn for love
America isn’t the only place where young pop stars have to apologize for having a sex life. Minami Minegishi, a 20-year-old member of the Japanese musical group AKB48, shaved her head in penance after a gossip magazine showed her leaving the apartment of a backup dancer from another band. It wasn’t the romance with a rival group that caused the scandal, but the fact that, as Minegishi said in an apologetic YouTube video, she did not “behave as a good role model” and follow the band’s rules about sexual behaviour—namely, it’s off-limits to girls. The tearful apology didn’t help her cause—management demoted the star to a trainee team.
When U.S. President Barack Obama told the New Republic that “up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time,” he probably never dreamed he’d set off a full-fledged new conspiracy theory, now dubbed “Skeetgate.” Many conservatives accused Obama of lying about his gun fandom; one Republican representative demanded to know “if he is a skeet shooter, why have we not heard of it?” The outcry grew so great that the White House released a photo of Obama shooting skeet at Camp David, which simply resulted in accusations that it was photoshopped, plus mockery of the “mom jeans” he was wearing in the picture. Continue…
By Ken MacQueen, Patricia Treble, and Emily Senger - Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 2:45 PM - 0 Comments
Tiger’s new squeeze, snowboarding’s Canadian star, and what Pauline Marois was doing in Scotland
Quebec Premier Pauline Marois visited Scotland this week. Possibly Edinburgh is lovely this time of year, but interestingly Scotland is led by the Scottish National Party, which hopes to gain independence from the U.K. in a referendum next year. The Parti Québécois leader’s meeting with First Minister Alex Salmond was thus subject to much anticipation, even if it turned out to be a relatively low-key, private affair. “It’s purely a courtesy event—‘very nice to meet you,’ ” a Scottish civil servant assured the Guardian. The two exchanged gifts and committed to keep in touch, but Salmond didn’t appear with the premier afterwards. All the same, Marois came away inspired. “It is encouraging,” she said, “because when you see people [such] as the Scottish population, which has such a long history, to decide to ask the question on their future in a referendum, I think it is hope for us.”
Old Dogs, nice trick
A bunch of the boys from the Old Dogs old-timers hockey team were having a few beers at a Kamloops, B.C., riverfront locale when they witnessed Kathryn Easton plunge through the ice of the Thompson River. She was trying to rescue two dogs she was walking that had wandered onto the ice and fallen in. Team members formed a human chain stretching into the river, and wisely used a flagpole to reach out to Easton. She and the two dogs were plucked from the river, freezing but unharmed. “I missed the Polar Bear Swim,” Old Dog Bert Kant told the Kamloops Daily News. “We can laugh because everything is okay.” Like Don Cherry says, it’s all about keeping your stick on the ice.
There are hills in Saskatchewan?
Don McMorris may be Saskatchewan’s highways minister but these days he’s better known as dad to 19-year-old snowboard superstar Mark McMorris. Mark won both silver and gold medals at the X Games in Aspen, Colo., last weekend. What was to have been an slopestyle showdown with the legendary Shaun White wasn’t even close. White crashed out in two of three runs while McMorris recorded the highest score in the event’s X Games history. Among his jumps is the triple cork 1440: three off-axis spins while rotating four times over 15 to 18 m of air. No hockey rink in the McMorris yard. “Ours had a drop-in with a down rail and a box,” dad told Snowboarder Magazine.
Lies and misplaced loyalty
The Supreme Court of Canada has refused to hear an appeal of bomb-maker Inderjit Singh Reyat’s nine-year sentence for perjury. Reyat built the bombs that killed 329 people aboard a June 1985 Air India flight from Canada and another that killed two baggage handlers in Japan. He was at best a foot soldier in the Sikh separatist conspiracy, but he pays a heavy price. His life has been a series of trials, appeals and jail cells for more than two decades. He remains the only person convicted in the terrorist attack. In 2011, Justice Mark McEwan convicted Reyat of repeated lying during the trials of his co-accused Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri. His perjury sentence is believed to be the longest in Canadian history.
Queen Bea no more
The Netherlands’ Queen Beatrix, 75, announced this week that she’s handing over the throne to her 45-year-old son, Willem-Alexander. Beatrix, who was schooled in Ottawa during the Second World War, says she’s abdicating “out of conviction that the responsibility for our nation should now rest in the hands of a new generation.” Willem-Alexander’s accession is set for April 30. He’ll be a male blip in recent monarchical history—since the last Dutch king died in 1890, the country’s monarchs have all been women—and next in line is his eldest daughter Catharina-Amalia.
Talk about male Bonding
“Rumor has it,” as the great Adele is known to sing, that the Academy Awards show on Feb. 24, will bring together for the first time all six men who have played Bond, James Bond. What would one call that? A six-pack of Bonds sounds too plebeian; a bevy of Bonds too girly. A 006 of Bonds, perhaps? The reason, of course, is the 50th anniversary of the bullets, booze and babes movie franchise. And the 006 007s would be: Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig. One thing is a dead certainty: Adele is confirmed to be singing her nominated song Skyfall during the broadcast.
Humble? Well, maybe.
Toronto was spared a multi-million-dollar by-election after Mayor Rob Ford won an appeal of his conflict of interest conviction last week. Ford, elected mayor two years ago, holds onto his office and Torontonians keep their front-row seats on the circus that is city hall. Ford called the trial and the appeal court ruling “a very, very humbling experience.” That said, he pledged to continue his attack on municipal waste and to seek re-election in 2014. “The job is not finished yet, and I plan to spend the next six years on getting the job done.”
Talk about first-class postage
Ann Weiszmann has an understandable fascination with Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews by giving them doctored identity papers called “shutz-passes.” After all, her mother, then known as Judith Kopstein, was one of those Wallenberg saved. So when Canada issued a stamp in January honouring the great man, Weiszmann bought several booklets in Toronto. When she gave the stamps a close look she was stunned to see a photo of her mother as a 14-year-old, staring back. Canada Post has used a copy of Judith’s 1944 schutz-pass as the stamp’s background. Judith Weiszmann, 83, a retired structural engineer living in Winnipeg, is honoured to be linked with one of her heroes, she told the National Post. She and her mother were stopped by the Hungarian Gestapo. “Those papers saved our lives.”
Tiger takes a mulligan
Anyone who has witnessed Olympic gold medallist Lindsey Vonn attack a ski run knows she is absolutely fearless. This may explain why she has apparently plunged into a romance with golf great Tiger Woods. Star magazine reports the two have dated since November. Vonn, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Woods’s deeply aggrieved ex, Elin Nordegren, has reportedly been teaching his kids, Sam and Charlie, to ski. If anyone can keep Woods—who captured his 75th PGA Tour victory with a win at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines this week—out of the rough and on the straight and narrow it’s Vonn, who has ski poles and knows how to use them.
An angry young man with nukes
Don’t let North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s baby face fool you: he may prove more warlike than either his late dad or grandpa. Last week a defence communiqué pledged the country’s missile and nuclear programs “will target against the U.S., the sworn enemy of the Korean people.” A day later another statement threatened to take “physical countermeasures” against South Korea if it helps enforce United Nations penalties against the outlaw regime. “Sanctions mean a war and a declaration of war against us,” it warned. Such rhetoric bodes ill for the South’s incoming president Park Geun-hye. Her election platform included dismantling the North’s nuclear program and working toward reconciliation.
Zimbabwe goes bust
Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti announced this week that his government had only $217 in the bank. That’s all that was left in government coffers after civil servants were paid. Biti warned that the government doesn’t have enough to fund this year’s presidential election. That leaves the government with no choice: “We will be approaching the international community,” he said. Whether donor countries pay up is an open question. President Robert Mugabe, 88, who’s led—and ruined—Zimbabwe since 1980, has announced he is running again.
Third time unlucky
French judges believe there is evidence suggesting Dominique Strauss-Kahn played a key role in a prostitution ring and should stand trial. In a decision leaked to French newspaper Le Figaro last week, a panel of judges said Strauss-Kahn had “effective and crucial participation in acts of pimping.” Though the former IMF chief has managed to dodge a sexual assault charge in New York in 2011, then a gang rape charge relating to sex parties he attended, it seems he may have to face justice after all, and faces up to 20 years in prison.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 1:10 PM - 0 Comments
Prince Harry returns home, John Galliano returns to design and Laureen Harper turns to Twitter
It seems Prince Harry has finally found his comfort zone—shooting at the Taliban from the cockpit of his Apache attack helicopter. The 28-year-old royal returned to Britain this week following a 20-week tour of duty in Afghanistan, where he battled his share of insurgents. “Take a life to save a life. That’s what we revolve around, I suppose,” he said. Before departing the war zone, the prince gave a series of interviews, speaking frankly about his own shortcomings. Harry admitted that his playboy behaviour has sometimes aggravated his family, but blamed the tabloid media for not allowing him his privacy. And he seemed wistful about trading the anonymity of combat for life in the spotlight. The secret to his success as a gunner? Lots of practice on PlayStation and Xbox, says the prince. “I’m quite useful with my thumbs.”
Return of the disgraced designer
John Galliano’s two-year fashion exile—imposed after his ugly anti-Semitic rant in a Paris café was caught on video—appears to have ended. The theatrical British designer—who was sacked as Christian Dior’s creative director, dumped by his own label, and stripped of his Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur—has been given temporary studio space by respected American design kingpin Oscar de la Renta, who says he is a “great admirer of [Galliano’s] talent.” Galliano, convicted by French courts on two complaints of anti-Semitic behaviour, blamed his outbursts on alcoholism and claims he spent the past two years in recovery. Now his real rehab begins. Continue…
By Colby Cosh, Ryan Mallough and Jamie Weinman - Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 1:11 PM - 0 Comments
Rory McIlroy now with Nike, Obama’s brother enters politics and Zero Dark Thirty Oscar controversy
While Kate, duchess of Cambridge, gamely called her first formal portrait “amazing” and “brilliant,” critics compared Paul Emsley’s work, now hanging in London’s National Portrait Gallery, to North Korea’s mawkish propaganda portraits and even the soft-focus Twilight films.
Rebelle with a cause
It’s been a wild ride for Quebec filmmaker Kim Nguyen, 38. Last week, War Witch (Rebelle), his intimate drama about an African child soldier, received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. And this week War Witch, made for a modest budget of $3.8 million, topped the list of movies honoured by the newly created Canadian Screen Awards with 12 nominations, outstripping larger productions such as Midnight’s Children, Goon and Cosmopolis. Shot in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nguyen’s film features a stunning performance from Rachel Mwanza, who was discovered as a homeless street kid in Kinshasa.
The worst kept secret in golf was unveiled this week when Nike announced it signed top PGA golfer Rory McIlroy to a reported $200-million contract. The deal makes McIlroy one of the world’s highest-paid athletes, and gives Nike the rights to golf’s two biggest and most marketable stars (including No. 2 ranked Tiger Woods). Woods was believed to be recruiting McIlroy for Nike while the two were paired together during the PGA playoffs last fall, and seen to be getting along well. The 23-year-old McIlroy will sport the swoosh for the first time at this weekend’s HSBC Championship in Abu Dhabi. Continue…
By Jaime Weinman, Jonathon Gatehouse, Ken MacQueen, and Patricia Treble - Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 4:21 PM - 0 Comments
Sarah Polley, Justin Bieber, a millionaire street cleaner … and an unlikely Toronto mayor
Talking back to the crowd
AC Milan midfielder Kevin Prince Boateng has inspired a spirited debate over how to deal with the growing problem of racist taunts by soccer fans. Boateng, a German-born Ghanaian, led his visiting team off the field during a “friendly” match last week with Pro Patria in northern Italy, to protest racist epithets being hurled from a group of home-team supporters. His decision to “run away” was criticized by Sepp Blatter, president of FIFA, the sport’s governing body. But Boateng was applauded by his coach, many fellow players and by AC Milan president and former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. “This is an uncivilized problem that needs to be stopped,” said Berlusconi, enjoying a rare moment on moral high ground. Such boorish behaviour is “giving Italy a negative image,” he said. Continue…
By Michael Friscolanti, Charlie Gillis, Nancy Macdonald and Jaime J. Weinman - Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 10:03 AM - 0 Comments
Plus, a Kansas couple who take helicopter parenting to new heights
Out of this world:
It’s official: there is nothing Chris Hadfield can’t do. High school scholar? Check. Elite fighter pilot? Check. First Canadian to walk in space? Check. And now, just days into his mission as the inaugural Canadian commander of the International Space Station, Hadﬁeld has set the standard yet again—recording the ﬁrst-ever song from space. Dressed in khaki shorts and a pair of grey tube socks, the Sarnia, Ont., native strummed an acoustic guitar while orbiting the Earth. His song of choice? Jewel in the Night, a Christmas tune written by his brother Dave Hadfield: “Wherever we go / In all of the wonders above / With all that we bring / There’s no finer thing / Than this message, this promise of love.”
Private shot, public spat
Facebook’s privacy settings can be utterly infuriating—even for a Zuckerberg. Randi Zuckerberg, the sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, flew into a Twitter rage when she discovered that a marketing director named Callie Schweitzer had tweeted one of her private photos. It was “way uncool,” she charged. But it turned out Schweitzer didn’t actually breach any of the website’s privacy rules; she and Zuckerberg simply shared a mutual friend, and that’s how the photo came to light. Still, Randi used the public spat as an opportunity to lecture the world about the etiquette of online sharing. “Always ask permission before posting a friend’s photo publicly,” she tweeted. “It’s not about privacy settings, it’s about human decency.”
By Michael Friscolanti - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 11:50 AM - 0 Comments
From the penny to Premier McGuinty to the Wiggles, see who moved on in 2012
David Petraeus was the epitome of an officer and a gentleman, one of the most respected generals of his generation before being appointed director of the CIA. But a secret, steamy affair with his biographer has left his legacy, and his marriage, in tatters.
Up in smoke
When she was still the minister of international co-operation, Bev Oda had a hard time co-operating with Ottawa’s expense guidelines. Orange juice at $16 a glass. Taxpayer-funded limo rides to the Juno Awards. An air purifier so she could smoke in her office. We can only hope her MP pension—more than $52,000 a year—is enough to maintain her extravagant tastes.
Long live the nickel
Here’s a penny for your thoughts: when you add up the tab for production, transportation and storage, the penny actually costs Canada’s economy more than $100 million a year. Which is why, after 154 years, the Royal Canadian Mint has produced its last one.
Selfish or not, the timing was right. After two majority victories, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty was slogging through his first stint as a minority leader—sparring with teachers, sagging in the polls, and under attack for cancelling two gas-fired power plants in Liberal ridings (a decision that will cost the public purse $230 million). His successor will have to deal with the fallout. Continue…
By Emma Teitel - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 10:50 AM - 0 Comments
It only takes 140 characters to make a fool of someone. Exhibits A through H
Ann Coulter, conservative pundit
The professional firebrand made headlines after the final presidential debate in October when she tweeted this: “I highly approve of Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.” President Obama didn’t seem to mind, but a Special Olympian with Down syndrome did. John Franklin Stephens, 30, asked for an apology to the special-needs community. “Come on Ms. Coulter,” he pleaded, “you aren’t shallow and you aren’t dumb.” She backtracked, saying it was just another word for “loser.”
Eat your words
Danielle Smith, Alberta Wildrose leader
The Wildrose Opposition leader was trying to do the right thing in October when she jumped on a Twitter follower’s suggestion that Alberta stop dumping tainted XL meat because the poor would appreciate truckloads of it. “I agree. We all know thorough cooking kills E. coli. What a waste. MT @lyechtel: Is there no way to cook it so it’s safe and feed the hungry?” The apology came shortly after. “I would have to say that if you can’t explain something in 140 characters, you shouldn’t try to talk about it on Twitter,” she told reporters. Continue…
By Kate Lunau - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 7:10 AM - 0 Comments
Science’s big bet paid off when the ‘God particle’ was discovered courtesy of the monstrous Hadron Collider
For nearly five decades, scientists have been searching for a missing piece of the universe—one that’s infinitesimally small, incredibly elusive, yet explains why everything as we know it exists. On July 4, an announcement came from Geneva, where the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) is based: a team of thousands, working on a massive underground particle accelerator called the Large Hadron Collider, had confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson. The “God particle” had been found.
Named for theoretical physicist Peter Higgs, who dreamed it up in 1964, the Higgs boson particle has long been the missing piece of the Standard Model of particle physics, which describes the universe’s basic building blocks. It was Higgs’s answer to a question that had scientists stumped: where does mass come from? Mass gives shape to the universe, holding protons and neutrons together to make atoms, and then molecules, and then all of us. Higgs suggested particles obtain mass by passing through an invisible force field that stretches through the universe. “The [Higgs field] fills all of space,” says Neil Turok, director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ont. “It’s the medium in which we live,” and the Higgs boson particle is evidence of that field. Continue…
By Anne Kingston - Tuesday, December 25, 2012 at 12:10 PM - 0 Comments
The break-ups of 2012
Katie Holmes’s divorce from Scientologist Tom Cruise after five years of public captivity was as sudden as the couple’s whirlwind nuptials. The 33-year-old actress’s Houdini-like manoeuvres, more jailbreak than marital meltdown, left her with custody of five-year-old Suri. Soon after, a Vanity Fair story ran about how the Church of Scientology recruited her to screen test as a prospective wife for the actor. Now the former Dawson Creek star is on Broadway. Meanwhile, her 50-year-old, couch-jumping ex has been seen squiring other women about; we can only assume he’s auditioning wife No. 4.
Big O axes little O
Oprah Winfrey lured the former “Queen of Nice,” Rosie O’Donnell, to her ailing TV network, OWN, with high hopes the former talk-show host would draw viewers and buzz. Six months later, after format changes, humiliating ratings and carping from staff, Winfrey yanked the show—to O’Donnell’s chagrin. Now the two former daytime doyennes aren’t talking at all—at least to each other.
Fourteen months after a showy Indian wedding complete with elephants, celebrity exhibitionists Russell Brand, 37, and Katy Perry, 28, announced their joint act was over. The British comedian, once fired from MTV for dressing as Osama bin Laden, filed for divorce from the American singer known for shooting whipped cream from her bra. Future mates have hard acts to follow.
Canada: just not that into Iran
When Canada breaks up with a country, it doesn’t fool around. Last September, the government unilaterally cut diplomatic relations with Iran, shuttering the Tehran embassy and booting Iran’s diplomatic staff from Ottawa. Dangers were too high, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said of the criticized move that showed the ayatollahs who was boss. Continue…
By Brian D. Johnson - Tuesday, December 25, 2012 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
Newsmakers 2012: From Hollywood marriages to business dealings
Green Lantern’s Silver Lining
Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds and Gossip Girl star Blake Lively, who co-starred in the 2011 movie Green Lantern, tied the knot, proving a box office disaster can have an upside. Reynolds, 35, was engaged to Canadian singer Alanis Morissette, then married for two years to actress Scarlett Johansson. People’s former sexiest man alive has previously been linked to Oscar winner Charlize Theron. Lively, 25, has dated Gossip Girl co-star Penn Badgley, Titanic heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio—and another Canadian actor who shares her hubby’s first name, Ryan Gosling.
Toronto stage impresario David Mirvish offered to demolish his most opulent venue, the Princess of Wales Theatre, to build a trio of monumental skycrapers on King Street designed by hometown architect Frank Gehry. Mirvish, a major art collector, teamed up with Gehry to propose 85-storey condo towers that would house public galleries and extend the OCAD University campus. Don’t call these towers condos, said Mirvish—“I’m building three sculptures that people can live in.” If the project is approved, congestion may turn traffic into a sculpture people can live in.
Dion, Deli Diva
Her heart will go on, and so will Schwartz’s Deli. Quebec superstar Céline Dion and manager-husband, René Angélil, bought the iconic 84-year-old Montreal restaurant with local restaurateur Paul Nakis. Dion and Angélil, who already own Quebec’s Nickels Restaurant and Bar chain, allayed fears they would turn the smoked-meat shrine into a franchise operation. “I have so many great memories of being there with the guys, and with Céline and our families,” said Angélil. Even before the deal, Dion’s photo was on the wall. Continue…
By Brian Bethune - Saturday, December 22, 2012 at 10:10 AM - 0 Comments
Newmakers 2012: There’s no denying Suzanne Collins’s heroine hit the zeitgeist right in the sweet spot
Katniss Everdeen has had a very good 2012, and deservedly so. The heroine of The Hunger Games series, Suzanne Collins’s highly popular trilogy of young adult novels (2008-10), already had a devoted fan base as the year began, but she exploded into a genuine pop-culture phenomenon with the March release of the film version of the first volume. Now Katniss is not only beloved by millions of teen girls—and a few boys (her film avatar, after all, is Jennifer Lawrence)—she’s also fodder for serious social commentary. American journalist Hanna Rosin, in an interview about her book The End of Men and the Rise of Women, paused while discussing the profound socio-economic changes unfolding in her country, from the erosion of traditional marriage to women’s increasing confidence and even aggression, to call Katniss an iconic figure. “She’s a classic aggressive male provider: unpleasant, self-sufficient, a total protector of her family. Those are all things that we associate with men. Twenty years ago, Katniss would have been a bizarre and unacceptable character, and now she seems completely natural.”
There’s no denying Katniss hit the zeitgeist right in the sweet spot. She’s the 16-year-old daughter of a dead coal miner who keeps her mother and beloved 12-year-old sister Primrose fed by her skill at archery (and poaching). They live in near-future Panem, an authoritarian state risen from the ashes of ecological catastrophe: worsening climate, rising sea levels and resource wars. The residents of the ruling Capitol, living in high-tech splendour, tyrannize the hardscrabble provincials, forcing each of 12 outlying districts to annually send a male child and a female child, aged 12-18, to ﬁght in the televised Hunger Games until only one remains alive.
Teenagers put in an arena to literally kill each other for the amusement of grown-ups is as savage a satire of reality TV and high school as can be imagined. (For adolescent girls, who live in a social milieu potentially even more vicious than that of boys, the appeal is obvious.) But if The Hunger Games is a pitch-perfect dystopia for our era of superstorms and economic uncertainty, it’s merely riding a wave of such storylines. Current YA fiction is dominated by dystopias, both the classic form, featuring harshly repressive societies, and post-apocalyptic scenes of chaos, all with climatic catastrophe as their root cause. The characters in the most popular series are far more often female than in past adventure stories, and the girls all have kick-ass potential, even if Katniss—who can fire an arrow through a songbird at 200 m—kicks harder than most. Continue…