By macleans.ca - Wednesday, December 8, 2010 - 0 Comments
Army’s chief medical officer said troops were never tested
The Nepalese army’s chief medical officer has said none of Nepal’s soldiers serving with UN peacekeepers in Haiti was tested for cholera before being deployed. The statement comes after a Nepalese army spokesman rejected a report which suggested the Haitian epidemic was caused by river contamination from Nepalese troops. The medical officer, Brig Gen Dr Kishore Rana, said the UN did not require such a test unless a soldier had cholera symptoms. This contradicts previous statements by the Nepalese army which has maintained that all its troops were given a medical test, which included checking for cholera, before being deployed to Haiti in October. So far, Cholera has killed more than 2,000 Haitians, and the belief that the outbreak originates with UN troops has prompted anti-UN protests.
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 11:38 AM - 16 Comments
The first soldiers I met in Afghanistan were teenagers who had been fighting since they were 15 or 16 years old. There were three of them. They manned a machinegun nest on a lonely hill a kilometre or two from where the Taliban were dug in a short horse ride away. This was in October 2001. The kids belonged to the Northern Alliance militia, which had been fighting the Taliban for years and were on the verge of defeat when the Taliban’s al-Qaeda guests bombed America and changed the course of the war.
Now it is that teenagers’ allies who ostensibly run the government in Kabul. I have no doubt that their ranks continue to include minors, as do those of the Taliban. Children fight and kill and die violently in Afghanistan. The world would be a better place were this not the case, but it is. And in the course of battling the Taliban Canadian soldiers encounter and capture such minors, and must figure out what to do with them.
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, November 24, 2010 at 12:04 PM - 0 Comments
Senior UN official expects death toll to reach 2,000
A senior UN official says Haiti’s cholera epidemic is spreading faster than predicted and warned it could affect thousands more people before it’s over. Since it first broke in October, cholera has claimed at least 1,344 lives in the country. It has spread rapidly through crowded housing, and the camps and the makeshift shelters where earthquake victims have taken residence. Nigel Fisher, the UN’s humanitarian co-coordinator in Haiti, believes cholera will continue to spread and said the realistic death toll will be close to 2,000. The number of cases is currently at about 70,000—20,000 more than the original estimate of 50,000.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 15, 2010 at 8:46 PM - 91 Comments
The Scene. The Liberal leader furrowed his brow. Michael Ignatieff had tried twice to gain some kind of clarity from the Foreign Affairs Minister and twice Lawrence Cannon, sticking to the script set out on the desk in front of him, had provided only the vaguest of notions.
“Mr. Speaker, these answers are genuinely absurd,” Mr. Ignatieff ventured with his third opportunity. “We are five days away from the Lisbon summit and the government is unable to stand in the House and tell us exactly what the post-2011 combat mission looks like.”
He gesticulated with both hands, putting on a surrealist puppet show to explain the confusion. ”How can the government explain this silence,” he begged, “how can it explain its improvisation, how can it explain its secrecy, how can it explain its lack of transparency with the Canadian people?”
His eyebrows jumped toward the ceiling as he finished.
With that asked, Mr. Cannon stood here to make a daring claim to seriousness. “Mr. Speaker,” he said, “we have been repeatedly clear on this particular issue.” Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, October 3, 2010 at 10:15 AM - 0 Comments
On proroguing Parliament, her critics, and why she thinks Canadians felt a connection to her
Michaëlle Jean’s term as governor general ends this week with the instalment of her successor, David Johnston. In one of her final interviews as the Queen’s representative, Jean reflects on what was at turns an inspiring, controversial and consequential five years in office and looks forward to her building the Michaëlle Jean Foundation, dedicated to continuing her outreach with young people, and her work with the United Nations as a special envoy to Haiti.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 12:20 PM - 0 Comments
What you’re thinking
Atlantic Canada: Maritimers and Newfoundlanders go to work prepared to get the most out of sunny days: 18 per cent say they keep summer clothes or flip-flops at the office so they can take advantage of good weather at lunch or after work. Just 13 per cent of Canadians overall say they head to work prepared.
Quebec: Many Canadians (38 per cent) donated to Haitian relief efforts, but Quebecers are the most skeptical about how much money will trickle down to those in need. Just 30 per cent agree that “all” or “most” of the money will reach the people, compared to 64 per cent of Atlantic Canadians.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, August 26, 2010 at 2:40 PM - 0 Comments
Harper teams up with Don Cherry, Laureen Harper, Rockies chef, and Necklaces by Bev Oda
Harper teams up with Don Cherry
Ontario Conservative MP Patrick Brown’s third annual Hockey Night in Barrie charity game was packed with fans and celebrities, including the Prime Minister. It was the first time Stephen Harper had attended the event. Harper coached the “blue” team with Hockey Night in Canada’s Don Cherry. Past coaches at the celebrity game have included Sports Minister Gary Lunn and former Conservative, now Independent MP Helena Guergis, who, coincidentally, was in a car crash the day of the tournament. (Guergis is now reported to be doing “fine.”)
By macleans.ca - Friday, August 20, 2010 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
A Botox backlash in Hollywood, Alanis Morissette on Alanis Morissette Day, and is Wyclef Jean shafting Haiti’s poor?
Andy Murray’s big win
Scotland’s Andy Murray, 23, overcame two tennis giants and weather delays at Toronto’s Rexall Centre to win the Rogers Cup championship for the second year in a row. He beat Rafael Nadal in straight sets and ground down Roger Federer in the final, before clambering into the crowd to hug his mother.
The soldier takes a bride
Retired infantry Capt. Trevor Greene has put aside work on a book about his remarkable recovery from an axe attack four years ago in Afghanistan to soldier away on a new writing project: wedding thank-you cards. In late July, Greene married Debbie Lepore, the woman he credits with helping drag him from the edge of death after his traumatic brain injury and setting him on the path to recovery. They married in Nanaimo, B.C., before 120 guests, including their ﬁve-year-old daughter Grace, in Lepore’s sister’s backyard, “which had been transformed into a bucolic, candlelit sanctuary for the occasion,” he said in an email to Maclean’s. He may not have walked down the aisle, but he stood at a set of parallel bars as Lepore became Mrs. Greene. They’ll soon resume work on the book, and he’s added workouts in a pool to his rehab routine. “My physio said that is where I will take my first steps in the fullness of time,” says Greene.
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, August 17, 2010 at 9:54 AM - 0 Comments
The hip-hop star could actually win the presidency. Then what?
Wyclef Jean, the hip-hop singer who last week announced he is running to become president of Haiti, is not the first musician to seek elected office. Nor is he the first aspiring leader to return to his homeland after spending the better part of three decades somewhere else and expect to be welcomed back as its political saviour.
But most political neophytes start with smaller ambitions, or more impressive qualifications. Jean wants to run a country still reeling from an earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people earlier this year, and manage its multi-billion-dollar recovery effort. He has never before held elected office.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, July 27, 2010 at 11:56 AM - 0 Comments
Musician is considering public office in birth country, family says
Musician Wyclef Jean is considering to run for president in Haiti’s next election, but has not yet decided whether or not he will seek a five-year term as leader of the country, his family said in a statement. Jean, 37, was born on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince but moved to Brooklyn, NY, as a child. Rumours have been circulating about Jean’s possible presidential run since his 2007 appointment as ambassador-at-large for the Caribbean nation by President René Préval, who cannot seek re-election. To enter the race, Jean would have to prove he has resided in Haiti for five consecutive years, own property in the country and have never been a citizen of any country other than Haiti. Dozens of candidates are expected to declare their candidacy by the August 7 deadline, and whoever wins will face the task of rebuilding the country devastated by the recent earthquake and decades of financial instability.
By Martin Patriquin - Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 9:40 AM - 0 Comments
Can a 10-year, $10-billion rebuilding plan turn this country around?
The domes of Haiti’s presidential palace once soared over the Champs de Mars park, a green space dominated by a four-metre sculpture of Haitian revolutionary leader Toussaint L’Ouverture—“a place,” as professor Mario-Jacques Scott, who teaches in the area, puts it, “to breathe and take a break.”
Today, the camp that now occupies the park sits in front of a collapsed palace that, reminiscent as it is of a man on his knees, has become an enduring symbol of a broken Haiti. In the wake of the Jan. 12 earthquake, the park is a teeming, chaotic labyrinth of tents, shacks and lean-tos. The odours of life—exhaust, sewage, charcoal smoke—fill the air; women and their children wash themselves behind L’Ouverture’s back. Crowding 3,800 desperate people into the equivalent of six city blocks has had its miseries: on a recent Sunday night, residents say, a young girl was gang-raped by 17 boys.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, June 22, 2010 at 12:21 PM - 38 Comments
The Prime Minister’s Office confirms the impending end of Michaelle Jean’s term as Governor General and her next mandate as a UN special envoy and namesake of her own foundation.
“As UNESCO Special Envoy to Haiti, Michaëlle Jean will draw upon her unique experience and dedication to Haiti, as well as her commitment to educational and cultural initiatives,” said the Prime Minister. “She will be in a position to further advance the international community’s response to the urgent needs in Haiti as it recovers from January’s devastating earthquake. The appointment is also a tribute to Canada’s leadership role in rebuilding Haiti.”
The Governor General will continue her educational and cultural initiatives in Canada through the Michaëlle Jean Foundation, which will use art and creativity to encourage and promote citizen engagement, particularly youth from underprivileged, rural and northern communities across Canada. The Foundation will support community groups in addressing social challenges, will use intergenerational dialogue and other creative methods as tools to support the development of youth as agents for positive change and will bring together community groups to foster civic participation.
By Charlie Gillis - Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 9:38 AM - 32 Comments
The rapper on his smash hit, Wavin’ Flag, almost quitting the World Cup trophy tour, and why street cred isn’t important
He might have written it, but K’naan Warsame is the first to tell you that Wavin’ Flag long ago ceased to be his song. Selected as the official anthem of the 2010 World Cup of Soccer in South Africa, the catchy hip-hop tune has galvanized audiences around the world, transforming stadium crowds into massive choirs. A recent version recorded by 50 Canadian artists to raise money for Haiti instantly shot to No. 1 on iTunes in Canada. The song has drawn international attention to the 31-year-old Somali-Canadian, whose seductive melodies and politically charged lyrics (along with the wrenching story of his family’s flight from war-torn Mogadishu to Rexdale, Ont., via New York City) set him apart from the self-styled gangsters of rap. He spoke to Maclean’s from Paris, where he is headlining the World Cup trophy tour. Continue…
By Andrew Potter - Sunday, March 14, 2010 at 2:33 PM - 41 Comments
Yesterday’s FT has a letter to the editor from Thomas Moore of the Brookings…
Yesterday’s FT has a letter to the editor from Thomas Moore of the Brookings Hoover (duh) Institution, and his subject is the difficulty countries such as Haiti have attracting long-term assistance. The problem is that countries are leery of providing anything more beyond short-term aid, because they fear that such assistance will just be siphoned off by the corrupt leadership. What’s the answer? He proposes the old idea of a mandate:
The best state to run Haiti for the next 20 years is Canada. It has several advantages: a significant portion of Canadians speak French, which is related to the language of the native Haitians; Canada is widely considered as having one of the most open and honest governments in the world; and, most importantly, it has no record of being a colonising power. Canadians also have long been involved in attempting to help Haiti.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 4:17 PM - 2 Comments
And with it, disease and death
Haiti’s rainy season usually begins at the end of March and the beginning of April, but there have been heavy rains in the past few days, so it looks like the wet weather may be arriving early this year. It will be deadly for thousands of Haitians who have been living in makeshift tent cities since the January earthquake. “When the rains come, there will be endless illness in the camps,” says Rüdiger Ehrler, of the aid organization German Agro Action. Tuberculosis, typhoid fever, diphtheria and malaria are all expected. And because Haiti’s natural rainforests now survive on only a tiny portion of the country, the soil can’t soak up sudden downpours, making mudslides and flooding common during heavy rains. For Canadians who thought the worst was over for Haiti, the next few weeks could be a sad surprise.
That thing where the government didn't want embarrassing information about its handling of Haiti to get out? Yeah, that just ended.
By Paul Wells - Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at 4:48 PM - 56 Comments
Everyone go read Mike Petrou.
By Michael Petrou - Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at 3:56 PM - 119 Comments
Has anyone seen the new Alice in Wonderland movie? I haven’t, but every month or so I try to get straight answers from the Canadian International Development Agency, so I figure I’ve saved myself 11 bucks.
I called the agency yesterday with questions about the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund. You probably remember this. It’s where the Canadian government promises to match funds Canadians donate to Haiti to help with, among other things, “early recovery” and reconstruction. I had heard from a contact who does relief work in Haiti that no one who has applied for money from this fund had heard back from CIDA. Seemed a little strange. It’s been two months since the quake and one month since the donation window closed on February 12. So I called CIDA to find out how much money has been raised, how much has been disbursed, where it’s been disbursed, and, if nothing has been disbursed, as my contact told me, when it will be.
The first thing you need to know about CIDA is no one who answers the media inquiries phone line is capable of answering questions. They can write questions down, though, which is all the job requires. Then someone else gets back to you – not by phone, mind. That would involve social interaction and thinking for one’s self. Dangerous. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, March 9, 2010 at 3:14 PM - 4 Comments
Michaëlle Jean weeps as she revisits her hometown
Streets and rooftops were lined with people the last time Governor General Michaëlle Jean visited Haiti, her home country. Her latest visit, following the earthquake that decimated the country, is much more somber. On the first day of her two-day trip Jean laid a wreath at the church where she was baptized, now crumbled into rumble, and traveled to a community centre where she met with the daughter of her own daughter’s god mother, who died during the quake. Jean’s extended family has been difficult to locate, as the Haitian concept of family is fluid, and the country has no phone books or street signs. Still, the governor general said, “family is about the forces that unite us in solidarity and brotherhood. Family isn’t just in the blood; it’s in the work we do together.”
By Colby Cosh - Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 6:08 AM - 79 Comments
I guess I’m slow on the uptake. I expected that the Globe & Mail would receive a flood of objections to, and ridicule for, Jessica Leeder’s cheerfully uncritical Feb. 27 blogpost about the activities of a Canadian “naturopathic doctor” who was rushed to Haiti by a charity to “help” with relief efforts. Instead, the paper has promoted Leeder’s story to the front page of its website. Denis Marier, whose own website proclaims him to be a “humanitarian”, brought 100 pounds of homeopathic medicines with him to Haiti; by his own account, this has enabled him to begin “administering homeopathic remedies to several children with scabies (Psorinum)”.
What’s psorinum, you ask? Good question! On the homeopathic “principle” that “like cures like”, practitioners sometimes apply what they call “nosodes”: these are diluted secretions from sick people, which may include excrement, blood, or diseased tissue. Psorinum is described in one favourable literature abstract as “an alcoholic extract of scabies, scrub, slough, and pus cells”. “Dr.” Marier has also been enthusiastically prescribing “pyrogenium”, an English homeopathic remedy that consists of diluted extract of rotten beef.
It’s all related to the “miasmatic theory” of disease, whose abandonment in the 19th century you may have heard some wild rumours of. I say “abandonment”; the truth, of course, is that miasmatic theory had to be positively bulldozed out of the path of Koch, Pasteur, John Snow, Ignaz Semmelweis, and other early investigators that we now, with all our hegemonic Western prejudices, regard as the first proper scientists in medicine. But Marier, evidently not one to take a hint, is passionately investigating the “application” of miasmatic theory to “relief medical work”. The charity that’s footing the bill for this experimentation—performed on human subjects who could not possibly be under greater duress, and for whom informed consent is inconceivable—is Hearts Together For Haiti, a troubled Catholic institution for which anointing sick children with pus may actually represent something of an upgrade, ethically.
Leeder, who is an award-winning investigative reporter, writes that “Integrating medical relief work with homeopathy is an approach that’s only in its infancy.” But homeopathy, in the form that Denis Marier practices, is what we had before real medicine: i.e., folk notions and metaphysical nonsense. Advocates of various styles of quackery always emphasize the great antiquity of their ideas, usually just as they’re about to complain that those same ideas have never been given a fair hearing by the Establishment. And characterizing something as “being in its infancy” implies that it is on course to grow into adulthood if uninterrupted by calamity. It’s precisely the kind of word choice a neutral reporter ought to avoid—I would say most especially when in the process of documenting the wasteful, possibly harmful activities of a delusional, selfish idiot.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 9:06 AM - 24 Comments
Canada’s investment in Haiti goes back to 1963, when the government of day moved in quickly to defend Canadian citizens trapped on the island in the face of political tensions.That was soft power. In 1993, under a Liberal government, Canada was part of a multinational force that was called to Haiti after then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was overthrown. Canada along with the U.S, Argentina, France and the Netherlands sent warships to enforce an embargo on Haiti’s oil, arms and foreign funds. That was hard power, and Stephen Harper knows it.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at 4:29 PM - 65 Comments
An excerpt from the Prime Minister’s speech to Canadian troops today in Haiti.
This fleet of new aircraft, the C-17 fleet, is a big part of making this response possible. I single out the C-17 for a reason. There was a time when that kind of heavy-lift aircraft didn’t fit Canada’s soft power policies, but our government bought them for the hard power requirements of today’s world. Now we’re using them for relief work. What is the moral of the story? To do soft power, you need hard power. You need a full range of capabilities. These days, the Canadian Forces have the power they need to do the good our country desires you to do, and to do whatever our country asks you to do.
Full speech after the jump.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at 1:07 PM - 2 Comments
Funds earmarked for building to house Haitian government
On Tuesday, Stephen Harper visited the town of Jacmel, Haiti, where Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean was born. The visit kicked off Harper’s second day in the earthquake-ravaged country, where he will visit Canadian forces providing aid on the ground. In Jacmel, Harper will visit a clinic and a water-purification camp before heading to the town of Leogane. The Prime Minister announced on Monday that Canada will donate $12 million to construct a building to house Haiti’s national government.
By macleans.ca - Monday, February 15, 2010 at 2:59 PM - 7 Comments
PM on hand to observe relief and reconstruction efforts
Stephen Harper has landed in Haiti to begin a two-day trip to the devastated Caribbean country to observe the ongoing recovery efforts as well as. The PM is the first G20 leader to set foot in Haiti since its capital Port-au-Prince was all but razed by an earthquake. Canada has played a leading role in funding and organizing relief efforts in Haiti. Canadians have donated $145 million for recovery efforts, with Ottawa matching at least $124 million of that figure. The federal government has also provided about 2,000 troops to help with emergency response and reconstruction efforts. “I am deeply proud of the remarkable work being done by Canadians to help the Haitian people rebuild,” Harper said in a statement released Sunday. “From providing water, shelter and medical attention to helping rebuild and promote security, they are making a real difference in people’s lives.”
By macleans.ca - Friday, February 12, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
It takes a village to raise an idiot
Jacques Rogge and the rest of the executive board of the International Olympic Committee have relented and will allow the Australian International Olympic Committee to fly its iconic “boxing kangaroo” flag from a balcony of the Vancouver Olympic Village. The flag was ordered removed because the IOC bans unauthorized commercial symbols, and the cartoon ’roo is trademarked, albeit only to the Australian Olympic Committee. The dispute ﬁred up Aussies everywhere. Deputy PM Julia Gillard called it a “scandal.” Vancouver radio phone-in callers raged at the IOC’s bully tactics. IOC spokesman Mark Adams called the issue “a storm in a teacup.” Meantime, athletes are streaming to the Oz sector of the village for a photo with the giant ’roo.
He did it for the kids
It was death in the afternoon for any bull that Jairo Miguel Sànchez Alonso faced Saturday at an arena in southwest Spain. The 16-year-old killed six bulls without mussing his sparkly white suit of lights. He returned to Spain after several years apprenticing in Mexico, where there is no minimum age for fighters. He almost died there in 2007 when a bull gored him. Alonso holds no grudges. “I feel quite bad when the bull has been good and you see the expression on his face, the innocence,” he says. “He has given you his bravery.” The event, while bloody, had a softer side. It was a fundraiser for children with autism.
Bad times for burkas
French Prime Minister François Fillon announced this week he’ll deny citizenship to a Moroccan national who forces his French-born wife to wear a burka. “If this man does not want to change his attitude, he has no place in our country,” he said. Meantime, President Nicolas Sarkozy’s call for a law banning full burkas is gaining steam. He has declared the full veil and body covering “not welcome” in France, and inconsistent with the country’s values. It’s certainly not welcome in Paris post offices. Two burka-clad robbers walked into a post office in the Paris suburb of Athis Mons, an area with a large immigrant Muslim population. They pulled out handguns and stole the equivalent of $6,000.
Blades of glory
Germany’s Katarina Witt and Canada’s Elizabeth Manley met on the ice in Vancouver Sunday, 22 years after the Teutonic bombshell and Canada’s sweetheart squared off in Calgary during the 1988 Olympics. Witt won gold but Manley, under enormous home-country pressure, pulled off the skate of her life to finish second. Both women are doing television colour commentary in Vancouver, but they took a turn on the Robson Square ice rink with young members of the Coquitlam Skating Club. “We’re not here for a rematch,” joked Manley, 44. “Not at our age, I’m 20—plus tax.” Replied a razor-sharp Witt: “Oh, my God! How much are taxes here?”
Tea time in Tennessee
Cranky country singer and musical comedian Ray Stevens’s flagging career was ready for a death panel. Then the 71-year-old singer of such novelty hits as Ahab the A-rab and Gitarzan wrote We the People, a lighthearted attack on President Barack Obama’s health care initiative. The video, which shows Stevens strumming a bathroom plunger and singing, “You vote Obamacare, we’re gonna vote you outta there,” is a YouTube hit and an unofficial anthem of the ultra-conservative Tea Party movement. Stevens sang at the group’s convention in Nashville on the weekend, where Sarah Palin raised eyebrows with her $100,000 fee for giving the keynote speech. “That’s a lot of damned tea,” grumbled one delegate.
Do as I say, not as I…ahh-choo!
As deputy health minister for the Czech Republic, Michael Vit has the job of deciding whether to impose mandatory swine flu vaccinations on “all people indispensable for the functioning of the country.” The day after receiving the assignment, Vit came down with H1N1 himself. “I have muscle problems, a headache, simply all symptoms of the flu,” he said. The deputy health minister admitted he had yet to receive the vaccination. “As you see, I’m a living example.”
‘Funeral’ for friends, and strangers
Canadian orchestral rockers Arcade Fire made it to the Super Bowl last weekend, when the group’s stirring anthem Wake Up, from their hit CD Funeral, was used in a series of NFL promo ads. While the group is protective of licensing its music, they had their reasons in this case. They turned over the fat licensing fee to Partners in Health, an agency with deep roots in Haiti. Band member Régine Chassagne’s family came from the island. She expressed her grief in an article in Britain’s Guardian newspaper: “I am mourning people I know. People I don’t know. People who are still trapped under rubble and won’t be rescued in time.”
Broom versus stick
Icy, obsessed with winning and not above the occasional cheap shot. Yes, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and hockey are a match made in heaven. Hockey is “deeply reflective of the character of the nation,” he explained in a pre-Olympic interview with Sports Illustrated. Harper, who has studied the origins of the sport, said it contributes to “a uniquely Canadian sense of belonging in a community across the country.” Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff waxes poetic about a different sport: curling. Naturally, he identifies with the skip. “It’s the leadership and the precision, and the quiet,” he told the Globe and Mail. Apparently he’s not the sort of skip who shouts unseemly commands like, “Hurry, hurry hard.”
Very, very teed off
A Kelowna, B.C., entrepreneur is cashing in on Tiger Woods’s extramarital mayhem. Mike Caldwell has produced the Mistress Collection, a boxed set of 12 golf balls, each bearing a portrait of one of Woods’s mistresses. “He likes to play a round with them…and now you can, too!” notes his website, tailofthetiger.com. Caldwell says he sold 1,500 sets at US$54.90 in the first six days. Less than impressed is Joslyn James, an adult film star and alleged Woods mistress. She called a news conference to denounce the balls as hurtful and in bad taste. “It bothered me to think that someone would be standing with a dangerous club in their hands hitting a ball with my photo on it,” she said. She then showed her sensitive side by releasing 100 tawdry text messages she said she received from Woods.
You don’t want a visit by Oscar
Oscar the cat has a near infallible ability to detect which of the patients in the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, R.I., is next to die, says Dr. David Dosa, a geriatrician. When Oscar curls up with a patient, staff know to phone the next of kin. “It’s like he’s on a vigil,” says Dosa. Such insight would come as no surprise to cat owners, who are themselves terribly smart. Certainly smarter than dog owners, according to a study by Dr. Jane Murray at the University of Bristol. Winston Churchill was a cat lover. Paris Hilton loves dogs. Want more proof? Cat owners (if anyone really owns a cat) are 1.36 times more likely than dog owners to hold a university degree. They’re also 100 per cent less likely to have to follow behind their pet and scoop droppings off the sidewalk.
Gay but not cheerful
The headline in the Seattle Weekly says it all: “Gay, mentally challenged biracial male cheerleader claims discrimination.” All that high school student Benjamin Grundy wants is to shake his pom-poms like the girls on the squad at Garfield-Palouse High School in tiny Palouse, Wash. Instead, the cheer coach suggested he’d make a great mascot. He was eventually given a cheerleader’s top but denied the rest of the uniform, pom-poms, and the right to join the dance routine. “I was reduced to standing there and moving my arms,” he says. The school board denies discrimination, but Benjamin’s mother, Suzanne Grundy, is pressing the case with the ACLU and her congressman. “The combination of a biracial, mentally challenged gay male may be too much for them,” she told the local TV station.
L’état c’est moi
Quebec’s Lieutenant-Governor Pierre Duchesne has revived a tradition that ended 44 years ago—awarding medals, in gold, silver and bronze, and bearing his coat of arms, to those making contributions to their communities. The practice of awarding such medals ended in 1966 after Quebec nationalists condemned the symbolic tie with the monarchy. Duchesne has no such qualms: he also invoked royal privilege to avoid testifying before a national assembly committee on how he spends some $1 million annually in taxpayer money. His refusal to testify was condemned by all sides of the legislature.
Disharmony in the house of Wang
It was Hong Kong feng shui master Tony Chan’s skills in arranging buildings to create a positive life force that drew Chan to the eccentric, pigtailed property magnate Nina Wang. He began a 15-year affair with Wang, 23 years his senior. Now, he’s accused of arranging her $4-billion fortune in a manner auspicious to himself. When she died at 69 in 2007, he claimed to be her sole heir. Her family contested the will, and he’s charged with forgery.
She also has a Ph.D. in thankless tasks
Leila Ghannam, a former Palestinian intelligence officer, is the first woman governor of Ramallah, the unofficial capital of the West Bank. Her challenge is to quash a resurgence by hard-liners in Hamas. “My intelligence experience, like my degree in psychology, helps me carry out my job,” she says.