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 Ken MacQueen - Friday, December 21, 2012 at 11:44 AM - 0 Comments
A hero in a Hummer and other lifesavers in the past year
Say what you will about the Hummer, that ungainly beast of a motor vehicle can be a lifesaver in the right hands. On Aug. 31, Darrell Krushelnicki, a 46-year-old energy-company worker in Fort Nelson, B.C., sacrificed his 2006 Hummer H3, at no small risk to himself, to stop a speeding car from slamming into four young pedestrians on an Edmonton crosswalk.
It was 4:30 p.m., and Krushelnicki, in Edmonton to visit his family, was exiting the Bonnie Doon Shopping Centre parking lot. Traffic was stopped for three teens and a three-year-old child on a crosswalk with amber lights flashing. Krushelnicki was edging the Hummer out onto the road to make a left turn when he noticed a grey Pontiac speeding down the street, the driver allegedly talking on a cellphone. Krushelnicki edged out further, but it was clear the driver was oblivious to the kids on the road.
“He was accelerating, and I had to make a decision, I felt, and that was to stop the vehicle,” he later explained. He gritted his teeth, braced for impact and drove directly into the path of the car to shield the young people. There was a loud bang, a clatter of debris, and the two vehicles skidded to a stop just feet away from the stunned foursome, who had been unaware they were even at risk. “If it wasn’t for that guy, I’m pretty sure I would be dead,” a shaken 15-year-old Janice Marett told a CBC interviewer. “He could have died if it hit the wrong way. He risked his life for four kids he didn’t even know. It’s amazing.” Continue…
By Charlie Gillis - Friday, December 21, 2012 at 11:40 AM - 0 Comments
Jenna Talackova failed to win the Miss Universe crown, but she inspired many
Fairest of the fair
Jenna Talackova may have failed to win the Miss Universe crown, but she inspired transgendered people with her battle to compete. The Vancouverite, who had sex-change surgery at 19, was disqualified because she was not a “naturally born” woman, as per pageant rules. She threatened to sue before contest owner Donald Trump intervened on the basis that she was a legally recognized female in Canada (surely Trump’s most sensible public statement all year). Talackova went on to win Miss Congeniality.
Watch in 2013 for the erasure of Bo Xilai from the official history of the Chinese Communist Party. The former party chief in Chongqing was seen as a potential president before his wife, Gu Kailai, was implicated last spring in the murder of a British businessman and the family’s corrupt dealings were exposed for all in China to see. Now, with Gu convicted, Bo facing bribery charges and with public anger over corruption on the rise in China, the party is denying he had much influence to begin with.
Conservative MP Rob Anders, a reliable contender for space on this page in past years, outdid himself in 2012 by claiming that NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair “helped hasten” Jack Layton’s death. The Calgary MP, known for sleeping in the Commons and for dismissing Nelson Mandela as a terrorist, told a reporter that Mulcair implicitly pressured the cancer-stricken Layton to relinquish the NDP leadership in the run-up to the 2011 election—a theory the Prime Minister’s Office quickly disavowed. Anders wound up grovelling to Layton’s widow, Olivia Chow. But his apologies weren’t enough for some. One Calgary man started an online petition to have Anders removed from the Tory caucus. Continue…
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Friday, December 21, 2012 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
It wasn’t just Usain Bolt who became a household name at the 2012 Olympics.
Speechless When trampolinist Rosie MacLennan of King City, Ont., won Canada’s first (and only) Olympic gold, the 23-year-old was shell-shocked: “I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do?” The answer is: everything. She’s been celebrated at centre court by the Raptors, introduced an author at the Giller Prize ceremony, and was an honoured guest at the Gold Medal Plates fundraiser for Olympic athletes in Ottawa (her medal in an elegant clutch purse). She’s now an ambassador for the Level the Field campaign to show “how play can create brighter futures for children everywhere,” she says.
Boris Johnson doesn’t appear fit for office—or anything else, really. Permanently dishevelled, gaffe-prone and coiffed almost as preposterously as Donald Trump, the former journalist is, in a word, shambolic. But Londoners have a soft spot for their clownish mayor, and by the end of the Games so did the rest of the world. Despite dire predictions about everything from transit chaos to labour strife, the party went off without a hitch—except the moment when “BoJo” somehow got stuck midair on a zipline. And now there’s serious talk he might eventually replace David Cameron. Stranger things have happened.
Oscar Pistorius is among the fastest 400-m runners in the world. Quick enough to make South Africa’s Olympic squad, then come second in his heat in London, before bowing out in the semifinals. These are essential truths that sometimes get lost in the hype and controversy over the fact that he does it all on carbon-fibre blades. The double-amputee had to fight long and hard for his chance to race against able-bodied athletes. And while he didn’t win, he scored a victory for himself, and all of sport, just by being there. Continue…
By Charlie Gillis - Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 1:56 PM - 0 Comments
2012 Newsmakers: Lance Armstrong’s arrogance in the face of incontrovertible truth. Livestrong, as if.
When the shock had worn off and tempers had cooled, the wonder lay not in his misdemeanours but in his resolve. It’s one thing to cheat, another to lie. But to cheat and lie for so long—to draw in teammates, to bind them with threats, to lay waste to their reputations when they confessed—who among us could have done it? We’re used to learning our heroes have feet of clay, that they dope or drive drunk or cheat on their spouses. This was different. Lance Armstrong wasn’t revealed to be human this year. He was revealed to be inhuman.
The lies took more than a dozen years to fall away, hanging this summer by the threads of Armstrong’s brazen denials. Since the first whiff of suspicion back in 1999, when a former French rider spoke publicly about widespread doping in cycling, Armstrong had been on the offensive. He publicly attacked that rider, Christophe Bassons, inviting him to “go home” from the 2000 Tour de France. He ridiculed and sued the truth-sayers who followed—riders, journalists, and racing officials who alleged widespread doping at the highest echelons. In a 2001 TV ad for Nike, Armstrong all but laughed in their faces: “What am I on?” he snarled. “I am on my bike busting my ass six hours a day. What are you on?”
But the drip, drip of revelation kept coming, culminating two years ago in the stunning admission by Armstrong’s former teammate, Tyler Hamilton, that he and Armstrong had taken the blood-doping hormone erythropoietin (EPO) before and during the 1999, 2000 and 2001 Tours. Finally, in October, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) published its jaw-dropping report on doping on the U.S. Postal Service and Discovery teams Armstrong had led in his seven Tour de France victories. Armstrong wasn’t just a participant in the teams’ doping program, by USADA’s estimation; he was the doping program. His unquenchable appetite for Tour victories, the report said, “led him to depend on EPO, testosterone and blood transfusions, but also, more ruthlessly, to expect and require that his teammates would likewise use drugs to support his goals if not their own.” Continue…
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 5:30 AM - 0 Comments
‘Fat girls,’ ice dancers and a sweet simian with a sense of fashion
Making their mark
A week after soccer’s brain trust, FIFA, snubbed Canada’s Christine Sinclair, fans of the game had plenty to celebrate. First, the Argentine superstar Lionel Messi scored his 86th goal of 2012, surpassing a 40-year-old record and affirming the Barcelona striker as the greatest scorer the game has seen. Then, Sinclair was announced as winner of the Lou Marsh Award, given to Canada’s top athlete of the year. The honour comes after FIFA left Sinclair off its shortlist for female player of 2012—a cold shoulder some chalked up to Sinclair’s intemperate remarks about the officiating after Canada’s hard-fought semi-final loss to the U.S. at the London Olympics. To John Herdman, Sinclair’s national team coach, her body of work speaks for itself: “I’d put her up there with the biggest and best athletes in the world.”
Back to bunga?
Silvio Berlusconi could provide survival tips to vampires. No sooner had his foes left him for dead, politically speaking, than the scandal-ridden former Italian prime minister rose anew, forcing current PM Mario Monti out of power this week, and declaring his candidacy for the national leadership. Berlusconi’s resurrection marks a new low for Italian politics, critics say: at 76, he is still appealing convictions for tax fraud, while fighting charges of having sex with an underage prostitute—this, at time when Italy is drifting toward a full-blown debt crisis. Yet the media tycoon hasn’t lost an ounce of audacity. On his Facebook page, he claimed that he tried to find a worthy successor, but added: “There isn’t one.”
By Mika Rekai - Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 1:20 PM - 0 Comments
From syrup to slurpees, food and drink made their mark in 2012
A mite shy
New Zealanders went into deep withdrawal after the nation’s Marmite producer, Sanitarium, suspended production at their Christchurch plant in the wake of an earthquake that damaged the factory in 2011. Repairs were supposed to be finished by summer, then October, but the shelves are still empty of the popular yeast-based spread. Sanitarium officials warned New Zealanders to use it sparingly, but 500-g jars were being hoarded and sold for more than $50 online. While some Kiwis have withstood the shortage bravely, loyalties were sorely tested. In the spring, supermarkets reported that sales of Australian rival Vegemite rose significantly.
It was a heist made for headlines. In late August, thieves broke into a Quebec warehouse and stole barrels full of Canada’s original sweetener, part of a 23,500-barrel reserve of maple syrup. The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers keeps the stockpile against shortages. Representing more than one-tenth of Quebec’s 2012 harvest, the syrup was said to be worth more than $30 million. In October, the RCMP tracked down the stolen syrup in New Brunswick, extricating maple-syrup producers from a sticky mess.
Joke’s on him
While filming an episode of The Mind of a Chef in Montreal, U.S. comedian Aziz Ansari was mistaken for local comic Sugar Sammy at Wilensky’s sandwich shop. Ansari, who accompanied New York chef David Chang and two local chefs to the shop for one of its famous fried bologna and salami sandwiches, impersonated the Canadian comedian for as long as he could. When someone revealed his name, the Parks and Recreation star said, “Different Indian comedian.” Sugar Sammy is a broad-shouldered, athletic and fashionable comic best known for his bilingual stage shows and reputation as a hard partier. Aziz Ansari is a short, slight comedian with a beard and moustache. After leaving, Ansari asked the chefs if they ever get mistaken for other chefs, then pointed to Chang, who is Chinese-American, and said with a grin, “Morimoto?”
This year, 10 Indian states banned the sale of gutka, a popular chewing tobacco made of crushed betel nut, nicotine, spices and chemical additives, in an effort to curb oral cancers, which make up almost a third of all cancer diagnoses in India. There are an estimated 65 million gutka users in the country, and the tobacco is popular as a cheap pick-me-up for everyone from rickshaw drivers to university students. With 80,000 new cases of oral cancer a year, the health ministry says the treatment of tobacco-related diseases costs more than $5 billion annually, almost five times more than the government earns from taxing gutka. The ban came as a shock to the manufacturers, who have banded together to challenge the legislation in court.
Classy with a C
At home, the diet-busting cinnamon buns sold at Cinnabon are found at subway stations and busy malls, where the irresistible smell of the pastry baking tempts passersby. This year it became the first U.S. franchise to open in Libya after the fall of Moammar Gadhafi. The Tripoli location, which made its debut in August to a flurry of excitement on Libyan social media, is the largest Cinnabon in the world. While the original recipe remains untouched, the restaurant is modelled after a European-style café, offering a cosmopolitan array of Italian coffees and pastries. A three-storey affair in a fashionable neighbourhood, it offers private dining rooms for meetings, dates and special occasions, as well as a playroom for children. A trip to Cinnabon here is a status symbol for the city’s wealthiest residents.
XL not sold here
The Big Apple is no friend to the Big Gulp. In September, the New York City health department banned the sale of sugared beverages larger than 16 oz. at restaurants, food carts, sports arenas and movie theatres to curb obesity. The ban is another bold step from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to improve the health of New Yorkers, but the rest of the United States is unlikely to follow his lead; in November citizens of two California cities rejected a fat tax on pop. New Yorkers thirsting for supersized pop can still get their fix. Fruit juices that are more than 70 per cent juice, diet pop and alcoholic beverages are exempt, as is 7-Eleven’s infamous Slurpees, because they are sold in a convenience store.
XL not sold here either
This September, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency suspended operations at an XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alta., after E. coli was detected in meat products. Then CFIA documents showed the bacteria was discovered two weeks before the suspension, during which time uninformed retailers continued to sell XL meat to Canadian and American customers; 18 people got sick, but there have been no known fatalities. The Alberta beef industry took a licking, but the processing plant was running again in October with more inspectors and stricter testing in place.
By Tamsin McMahon - Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 12:40 PM - 0 Comments
Many happy returns to some familiar faces
J.K. Rowling may be the most commercially successful author in recent memory, but in the lead-up to her first adult novel, The Casual Vacancy, skeptics questioned her writing chops. It’s one thing to earn a billion dollars charming children with teenage wizards. It’s quite another to penetrate the cloistered world of the literary elite. The fuss turned out to be for naught. The Casual Vacancy has been a critical success: the Guardian declared Rowling a storyteller “on a par with R.L. Stevenson, Conan Doyle and P.D. James.” Any 10-year-old could have told you that.
Putting the Sheen on cable TV
Writers for CBS’s Two and A Half Men made sure Charlie Sheen would never return when his character was hit by a train, and his body “exploded like a balloon full of meat.” Leave it to cable TV to see the potential in Sheen’s penchant for drug-fuelled rants and rehab stints. Sheen’s Anger Management debuted on FX in June. Ratings were respectable enough for the network to commit to a further 90 episodes. Let’s hope they left some downtime in Sheen’s schedule for a possible relapse. Maybe Ashton Kutcher will be free.
An inauspicious homecoming
Visit a prison and you’ll find inmates who claim to be wrongly convicted. But few can proclaim their innocence quite like Conrad Black. Since his release from a Florida prison in May he has made the rounds of British and Canadian media to declare himself the victim of the “fascistic conveyor belt of the corrupt prison system.” If there is one decision Black seems to regret, it’s the one to renounce his Canadian citizenship for a British life peerage. Eleven years after he termed his exit from Canada as his “last and most consistent act of dissent,” Black is back home on a one-year visa and fighting to keep his membership in Order of Canada. Missing Tim Hortons coffee, m’lord? Continue…
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 12:30 PM - 0 Comments
Jamaican runner’s three-peat in London made him a legend. As Jonathon Gatehouse explains, there’s more to do
Just a touch over a minute and 18 seconds. That’s all the time Usain Bolt actually spent running at the London Olympics. Three 100-m sprints, three 200-m runs, and the anchor leg of the men’s 4 x 100-m relay, spread over the course of a week. Not a bad return on investment considering his results—three more gold medals.
The 26-year-old Jamaican had set himself an immodest goal heading into his second Summer Games: to become a legend. And by winning the same three events he had taken in Beijing back in 2008—sprinting’s triple crown—he certainly made his case. There’s only ever been one other track and field athlete to win three events at consecutive Olympics: Ray Ewry of the U.S., who took back-to-back golds in the standing high jump, standing long jump, and standing triple jump in 1900 and 1904. (He won two more of those three events in 1908.) But it’s a safe bet that he didn’t cap it off by partying into the wee hours of the morning with leggy members of the Swedish women’s handball team. “I’m the greatest,” Bolt repeatedly told reporters, never failing to follow it up with his infectious grin. And really, who’s arguing?
In a discipline that is filled with chest-thumpers and enormous egos, Bolt towers above his competition. Before the six-foot-five star came along, sprinting was considered a shortish man’s game, with races won via quick exits from the blocks and low-slung drives over the first 30 m. But where Bolt excels is down the back stretch, standing tall with his long legs gobbling up the track. “I’m kind of a poor starter,” he explains in a video he recently posted on his website. “At 60 m, that’s where I become a beast. That’s when I start to dominate a race.” By the 90-m mark the work is usually over, and the celebration well under way. “The last 10 m you’re not going to catch me. No matter who you are, no matter what you’re doing. That last 10 m takes me three-and-a-half strides.” Continue…
By Charlie Gillis - Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 12:20 PM - 0 Comments
From space to the Marianas trench to Niagara Falls, 2012 had daredevils galore
A fine balance
More than restoring grandeur to the family name, Nik Wallenda established himself as the world’s pre-eminent daredevil on June 15 with his high-wire walk across Niagara Falls—a feat that summoned the attraction’s legacy of stunts and showmen even if the 33-year-old was not really at risk of falling.
Wallenda, a member of the centuries-old Flying Wallendas circus family, was forced by jittery U.S. network executives to wear a safety harness lest he fall to his death on live TV. But his 550-m journey was a success in every way, drawing 20 million North American viewers at its peak and launching Nik Wallenda as an international brand. “From here on,” he said before he left town, “Niagara Falls will be a huge part of who I am.” Three months later, he obtained the necessary permits to walk across the Grand Canyon. This time, there won’t be any harness.
What’s powered by plutonium, weighs one tonne, and can vaporize a rock from 10 m away? Curiosity, the most advanced robot ever built, landed on Mars Aug. 6 after blasting off from Earth almost nine months earlier. In a few short months, NASA’s minivan-sized explorer has changed our understanding of Mars, beaming back gorgeous, high-resolution, colour images to reveal an alien world that looks startlingly like our own. The robot has already found evidence that water once flowed on Mars, and where there’s water, there can be life. This rover’s mission has just begun, and Curiosity knows no bounds. Continue…
By Ken MacQueen and Mika Rekai - Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 11:30 AM - 0 Comments
Psy and a Jay-Z’s baby topped music charts, while a blogger and Kim Jong Un also earned the world’s attention.
A career in the music Biz
What with the yachts, limos and baby bling, it’s been a sweet first year for Blue Ivy Carter—the most beautiful baby ever, according to her parents, hip hop royalty Beyoncé Knowles and Jay-Z. Within days of her birth, Jay-Z had mixed her cries and coos into Glory, a song he wrote celebrating her birth, making her the youngest artist to ever appear on the Billboard charts. All Dad wants for her, he says, is to “love herself . . . be respectful and be a moral person.”
Maybe it’s the baby face and his love of theme-park rides, but North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has yet to earn the level of fear enjoyed by his late dad, Kim Jong Il. He intends to change that by gaining control of the military. Some 14 senior officials have been purged this year and army vice-minister Kim Chol was allegedly blown to bits with a mortar round after Kim ordered his obliteration.
Tied up with a good book
E.L. James has been called the Julia Child of mommy porn, and with her Fifty Shades series she’s found the recipe for riches. The three volumes of her trilogy fought for domination on bestseller lists most of the year. As in most cookbooks, there’s a certain amount of whipping, kneading and heat involved in achieving the desired result, but that’s where the similarity ends. Erika Leonard, her real name, is a British mother of two. She’s coy about her own sexual proclivities but says, “I had a good time researching these books.” Continue…
By Anne Kingston - Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 11:20 AM - 0 Comments
Yahoo!’s new CEO is one to watch in 2013
When Yahoo! Inc. named Marissa Mayer as president and CEO in July 2012, it was a very big deal, corporately speaking. Yahoo! poaching the 37-year-old Google executive from its archrival was a major coup; in a press release, the company crowed that Mayer had helped launch “more than 100 features and products including image, book, and product search; toolbar; iGoogle; Google News; and Gmail—creating much of the look and feel of the Google user experience.” Possessed of a smart and sunny demeanour, Mayer was once a visible public face of the search-engine behemoth, famously interviewing Lady Gaga for a “Google goes Gaga” YouTube video in 2011. Much was riding on her ability to turn around the foundering $5-billion tech giant. News of her appointment, which makes her the youngest Fortune 500 company CEO, boded well: Yahoo! stock price rose 2.7 per cent.
Yet what occupied headlines was not Mayer’s stellar professional accomplishments, but her gynecological ones. When she was appointed, the CEO was six months pregnant with her first child (with husband Zack Bogue, a lawyer). When she returned to the executive suite weeks after delivering son Macallister, an inevitable firestorm of debate ensued—one that highlighted the double standard that still applies to mothers, but not fathers, in the top echelons of business. Continue…
By Mika Reka - Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 9:30 AM - 0 Comments
A new NDP leader, a Liberal boxer, and a Canadian cycling champion grabbed headlines in 2012.
In October 2011, the bid was, at best, unlikely. Thomas Mulcair, a former Liberal Quebec cabinet minister, announced he would be running to replace the late Jack Layton at the helm of the NDP, a party that has clung to its social activism throughout its 50 years. Conservatives called Mulcair a political opportunist, and opponents within the NDP said he would betray the party’s social legacy, but by the spring of 2012, the MP from Outremont was the unshakable front-runner. He did not embrace every fringe social issue, nor did he make generous policy proposals at every campaign stop. Instead, Mulcair broadened his appeal by casting himself as the leader who could take on Stephen Harper and take the NDP to the government benches.
The son of Pierre Trudeau has yet to win the Liberal leadership, but Justin Trudeau proved he could be a contender. First there was the charity boxing match, where the wiry MP from Papineau defeated beefy Conservative Sen. Patrick Brazeau—the 3-1 favourite—in a third-round technical knockout. Soon after, people speculated Trudeau might capitalize on the moment with a Liberal run. After months courting support on the Hill and in the media, Trudeau entered the race in October with a commanding lead over his challengers.
Canadian cyclists don’t usually attract the adoring throng that is commonplace for their European peers. Then again, Canadians never had a champion to cheer for. In May, Ryder Hesjedal, 31, made history when he won the Giro d’Italia—a gruelling three-week race through the Dolomites and the Italian Alps—and became the first Canadian to win a Grand Tour. The Victoria, B.C., native entered the final stage of the race 31 seconds behind Spanish competitor Joaquim Rodríguez, but powered through the final ascent and tore through the streets of Milan to win by a razor-thin 16 seconds. He would later crash out of the Tour de France and post a lacklustre time at the London Olympics, but Hesjedal’s Italian job turned him into a bona fide hero. Continue…
By Martin Patriquin - Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 10:27 AM - 0 Comments
The Costa Concordia wasn’t the only vessel to make waves this year
In a combination of idiocy and breathtaking hubris, captain Francesco Schettino steered the Costa Concordia close to the Italian island of Isola del Giglio for a so-called “near-shore salute.” The Concordia hit a reef and capsized, and 32 of the 4,252 people aboard died in the ensuing chaos. Worse still: Schettino abandoned the ship early, claiming he “fell” into a lifeboat.
A Royal flush
More than 700 passengers on three ships reported un-cruise-like bouts of diarrhea and vomiting over one February weekend. The cause was norovirus, which is typically spread through ingesting contaminated food or water. The departure of Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas was delayed as 200 of its passengers were quarantined, while two other ships, the Ruby Princess and Crown Princess, were forced back to port after noro-virus outbreaks. LadrÓns with cojones Speaking of un-cruise-like behaviour, 22 passengers of the Panama-flagged Carnival Splendor were robbed at gunpoint during a day trip in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Bandits relieved passengers, who were on a bus on their way back from a nature tour, of their money, watches and passports. Two weeks before, the U.S. State Department had issued a travel advisory warning Americans of the dangers of travelling to 14 Mexican states, including Jalisco, where Puerto Vallarta is located. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 2:20 PM - 0 Comments
Michael Petrou on the Muslim Brotherhood in post-revolution Egypt
Mohamed Morsi was never meant to be president of Egypt. When elections were called following the overthrow of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, it was Khairat el-Shater, deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was chosen as the Islamist movement’s candidate. Morsi was the Brotherhood’s backup choice—derided in jokes as its spare tire.
But then the election commission disqualified Shater because he had recently been released from jail, and Morsi had to step in.
Mohamed el-Beltagy, a leading member of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), founded by the Brotherhood in the wake of the 2011 revolution, was sitting between Morsi and Shater at a Muslim Brotherhood office when they heard the news.
“I saw the look of relief on the face of engineer Khairat el-Shater,” he recalls. Morsi’s expression clouded. He understood the responsibility that had just been thrust upon him and did not look happy about it.
Morsi had good reason to be daunted. Egypt was facing its first genuinely democratic presidential election, one that resulted from a tumultuous, riveting and world-televised revolution that unseated one of the longest-ruling dictators in the Middle East. Tunisia might have been ﬁrst. Libya was bloodier. But Egypt was home to the Arab Spring uprising that mattered most. Continue…
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 11:22 AM - 0 Comments
A humbled President pledges to be in ‘a constant conversation’ with the people during his second term
It was an unusually emotional Barack Obama who, two days after his hard-fought re-election, thanked his staffers and his young campaign volunteers.
“What you guys have done will go down in the annals of history and people will read about it,” said the President, wiping away a few tears.
It was such a rare glimpse behind the cool exterior that the video quickly went viral.
Obama had averted a potential Great Depression and auto-industry collapse, taken out Osama bin Laden and delivered the Democratic holy grail: health insurance for all Americans. Then, in a gruelling campaign, he beat back the Tea Party, Republican super PACs and rival Mitt Romney. Continue…
By Ken MacQueen - Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 5:00 AM - 0 Comments
Check out our gallery of the year’s most toxic feuds, including Big Bird vs. Romeny and Putin vs. Pussy Riotof Photos
By macleans.ca - Friday, November 30, 2012 at 3:06 PM - 0 Comments
Managing editor Kim Honey explains
By Ken MacQueen - Friday, November 30, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Celebrating a remarkable Diamond Jubilee year, our adored Queen is still going strong, in sensible shoes
In the week before Remembrance Sunday, Queen Elizabeth II trekked to the scenic London borough of Richmond Upon Thames to tour the Poppy Factory. She is patron of the Royal British Legion and Prince Harry, her gunship-flying grandson, is among the British and Commonwealth troops in peril in Afghanistan. She was greeted by local dignitaries, toured the production area, had a go at assembling a poppy, and met with staff and clients from the factory-funded employment program for wounded veterans. “The Poppy Factory hasn’t had a visit from the Queen for 20 years,” the facility’s chief executive would later remark. Not that you’d think anyone’s counting—but they are.
By any measure 2012 has been exceptional for the 86-year-old monarch. It marked her 60th year on the throne. She had a historic rapprochement with an ex-Provisional Irish Republican Army commander, whose group blew up her cousin Lord Louis Mountbatten 33 years ago. She presided over the opening ceremonies of London’s Olympic and Paralympic Games, including a star turn with Daniel Craig’s James Bond. On Nov. 20, Elizabeth and 91-year-old Prince Philip observed their 65th wedding anniversary. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 5:49 AM - 0 Comments
Check out our interactive cover for a sneak peek
The Maclean’s Newsmakers Issue is now in print and we’ll be rolling out our coverage online in the days to come. Meantime, check out our interactive cover: click on the newsmaker to find out why he or she made the cut.
And click here to watch Maclean’s editor Kim Honey explain how we settled on our two newsmakers of the year.
Here are the first of our Newsmakers. (We’ll add to this file as we post.)
By Chris Sorensen - Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 8:50 AM - 0 Comments
As Chris Sorensen reports, it depends on who you ask
Mark Zuckerberg, the creator and CEO of Facebook, has never been an easy guy to like. The 28-year-old social-media magnate comes across as distant and unfeeling and is prone to awkward pauses. He’s no friend of privacy advocates, who fret about the vast sea of personal information that more than a billion Facebook users have uploaded, and is criticized by users themselves for changing the rules about how data is shared. Zuckerberg was even accused of stealing the Facebook concept itself, as anyone who watched the 2010 film The Social Network knows.
So it comes as little surprise that Zuckerberg would irritate investors, too. Facebook’s initial public offering this spring was not only billed as the biggest tech IPO since Google’s in 2004, but stood as a testament to how much social media has changed (some might say invaded) our lives. It was also viewed as a test of Wall Street’s ability to create and spread around massive amounts of wealth. Some even argued that, by convincing ordinary investors to put money back into the stock market, Facebook and its hoodie-clad creator could revive the ailing U.S. economy.
The result, given the hype, wasn’t pretty. On May 18, Facebook’s stock began trading at the IPO’s offer price of $38. A few minutes later it climbed above $40 as the masses rushed in, and then promptly sank like a stone—with an anchor tied to it. The shares eventually bottomed out at around $17.55 about three months later, wiping out more than $50 billion in value. And it wasn’t long before angry investors were looking for someone to blame. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 2:39 PM - 0 Comments
And DiCaprio’s birthday-party bickerers
Eggs on her face
Alberta’s scandal over kickbacks of public funds to the governing Progressive Conservative party developed a new wrinkle after a CBC News access-to-information request uncovered documents pointing to Lynn Redford, sister of Premier Alison Redford. As a government-relations adviser to the Calgary Health Region, Lynn held a barbecue for MLAs at CHR’s expense, and was compensated for tickets to a 2005 PC constituency fundraiser for then-premier Ralph Klein. And in her current job as a vice-president at Alberta Health Services, she approved a controversial expense claim by AHS president Chris Eagle, who had attended a 2011 “premier’s dinner” fundraiser. The request also revealed that in 2008, Lynn Redford expensed the $37.29 cost of a breakfast with her sister, tastefully referred to on the claim form only as “MLA, Calgary Elbow.”
Snaky on a plane
Journalists travelling on Rihanna’s private 777 tour jet (seven concerts in seven cities in seven days) may not get the outrageous stories they were hoping for, because according to one journalist’s inflight video, “We are the story.” Britain’s Independent reports that the sleep-deprived media has yet to get more than a glimpse of the singer—who sold the tour as a chance to “party” with fans and press alike. So the press has taken to partying on its own, indulging in complimentary champagne, chanting Rihanna’s nickname—Riri—and, occasionally, streaking: an Australian reporter was captured on video running naked through the airplane’s aisles, as desperate reporters called out, “I need a headline,” and, “Just one quote!” Continue…
By macleans.ca - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 5:30 AM - 0 Comments
Sonia Sotomayor hits Sesame Street, Robert Mugabe is the new Cecil Rhodes, plus a king-in-not-waiting
The full-bore FAQ
The royal family still feeds Prince Charles now that he’s 64—just not seven eggs at breakfast, as per popular myth. That and other long-held beliefs about the Prince of Wales were laid to rest this week in an FAQ released by Clarence House on the occasion of Charles’s birthday, as part of the royals’ ongoing effort to put a more normal face on their sometimes remote heir. He doesn’t duck taxes, advocate use of dangerous alternative therapies or loathe modern architecture, according to officials. And he doesn’t spend any—repeat, any—time thinking about being king. All of which is too bad: those were things that made him interesting.
Now, put that wand away
No sooner is Barack Obama re-elected than his first Supreme Court appointee is out spreading his radical anti-princess agenda. Sonia Sotomayor appeared on Sesame Street to confront a pink muppet named Abby who was dressed as a Disney-style princess, telling her that pretending to be a princess “is definitely not a career,” and encouraging girls to be “a teacher, a lawyer, a doctor, an engineer and even a scientist” instead. But her profession hasn’t been very helpful to Kevin Clash, the puppeteer who plays Elmo on the iconic kids’ show. He took a leave of absence after being accused of sexual misconduct, an accusation that was then recanted in a statement by the accuser’s law firm. Maybe he’d be happier if more people became princesses, not lawyers. Continue…
By Jaime Weinman, Chris Sorensen, Aaron Wherry, Kate Lunau, Patricia Treble, and Emily Senger - Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 5:30 AM - 0 Comments
Hobbits on a plane, Rob Ford’s transit trouble and No Doubt’s native controversy
The pop music group No Doubt is in trouble for playing the old game of cowboys and Indians. The video for the band’s new song, Looking Hot, featured lead singer Gwen Stefani dressed up in Native American garb and dancing around a teepee, playing a sexy Pocahontas-like princess who gets rescued from two menacing cowboys. The video received so many complaints from Native American groups objecting to the appropriation of their culture that the band pulled the video and apologized. Their intention was “never to offend, hurt or trivialize Native American people, their culture or their history,” the band said.
An American first
Rochelle Ballantyne’s grandma taught her how to play chess when she was in the third grade. Now, the 17-year-old is on track to become the first African-American female chess master. Ballantyne, a graduate of Intermediate School 318 in Brooklyn, where more than 60 per cent of students live below the poverty line, is heading into the National K-12 Championship in Florida, which opens Nov. 30. Ballantyne, who is often seen listening to her iPod while playing chess, says her grandma, now deceased, remains her motivation. “She introduced me to the idea of being the first African-American female chess master,” Ballantyne told Teen Vogue. “I really have to reach that goal for her.” Continue…
By Jaime Weinman, Patricia Treble, Chris Sorensen, Emily Senger, Kate Lunau, and Emma Teitel - Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 6:30 AM - 0 Comments
An open letter to Ann Coulter, a book for Pippa Middleton, and Berlusconi’s very bad week
And she’s the published author?
John Franklin Stephens didn’t take kindly to conservative author Ann Coulter’s use of the word “retard” in an insult hurled at President Barack Obama, so he did something about it. Stephens, 30, a Special Olympics athlete with Down syndrome, wrote an eloquent open letter to Coulter. “After I saw your tweet, I realized you just wanted to belittle the President by linking him to people like me. You assumed you could get away with it and still appear on TV.” He added that someone described using the “R-word” is likely bullied in school, struggles “with the public’s perception that an intellectual disability means [being] dumb and shallow,” and is “likely to receive bad health care, live in low-grade housing with very little income and still manages to see life as a wonderful gift.” It’s not the first time Stephens has spoken up for people with intellectual disabilities. He penned an editorial for the Denver Post, speaking against the film Tropic Thunder, which repeatedly used the term “retard” as an insult. Continue…