By Ken MacQueen - Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - 0 Comments
Check out our gallery of the year’s most toxic feuds, including Big Bird vs. Romeny and Putin vs. Pussy Riot
By Emma Teitel - Monday, October 29, 2012 at 10:27 AM - 0 Comments
The Prime Minister’s fiery takedown of Australia’s Opposition leader is changing hearts and minds
First, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s fiery smackdown of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, whom she branded a misogynist, became a YouTube sensation; now, it seems to have made Aussies love their unpopular leader—or at least hate her less.
It all started earlier this month when Gillard, noting that Abbott had once questioned whether women have the required temperament and physiology to lead, gave him a 15-minute dressing-down, labelling him a sexist and a hypocrite: “I was offended when the leader of the Opposition went outside in the front of Parliament and stood next to a sign that said, ‘ditch the witch.’ I was offended when the leader of the Opposition stood next to a sign that described me as a man’s bitch. Misogyny, sexism, every day from this leader of the Opposition. Every day in every way.” The video has since been viewed more than two million times, and comes at a pivotal moment for Gillard, who leads a minority government and is trying to push through unpopular spending cuts as the country’s mining boom cools.
Her approval rating jumped by five points in the wake of the incident, giving her a 10-point lead over Abbott, and it even prompted Australia’s Macquarie Dictionary to broaden its official definition of misogyny to include precisely the kind of sexist behaviour Gillard, the country’s first female leader, denounced in Parliament this month. (It is no longer limited to “pathological hatred” of women, but an “entrenched prejudice against women,” as well.)
Fiona Probyn-Rapsey, senior lecturer of gender and culture studies at the University of Sydney, says Gillard’s speech was a watershed moment in a country in which sexism is part of the cultural landscape. Gillard, once described as “barren” by a political opponent, has been “putting up with this sexist language for so long,” says Probyn-Rapsey, adding that Australia has “a profound anxiety when it comes to dealing with women in power.” She says that the Australian media was largely dismissive of Gillard’s speech—initially, the prime minister was accused of playing the “gender card”—until it gained positive attention outside the country. And then it gained traction inside the country. If polling trends continue, Gillard’s Labor party should win next year’s election. She is now seen as the preferred PM by 50 per cent of voters, while Abbott’s disapproval rating, now at 60 per cent, may climb after his latest gaffe. This week he said the government, which is cutting the baby bonus, wasn’t “experienced” about children—an apparent dig at Gillard, who is childless. Abbott’s woes are disappointing to John Winter, a 63-year-old Brisbane architect and Abbott supporter, who thinks Gillard’s status as feminist hero is “ridiculous.” He believes her speech was an opportunistic ploy, not unlike—in his opinion—her ascent to power. “She is poisonous,” says Winter, who accuses Gillard of attempting to “hitch up the sexism” to distract from political missteps like introducing a carbon tax when she promised she wouldn’t. To others, like Probyn-Rapsey, however, Gillard’s speech marks a significant moment—“when this woman stood up.”
By Emily Senger - Wednesday, October 17, 2012 at 10:49 AM - 0 Comments
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s rant in Parliament, in which she accused Opposition leader…
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s rant in Parliament, in which she accused Opposition leader Tony Abbott of sexist and misogynist behaviour, has prompted Aussie dictionary editors to literally rewrite the definition of misogyny.
The Macquarie Dictionary, which bills itself as Australia’s National Online Dictionary, announced that it is changing the current definition of misogyny from “a pathological hatred of women” to “entrenched prejudice against women,” reports The Sydney Morning Herald.
The coming change was, in part, inspired by the heated debate between Gillard and Abbott, dictionary editor Sue Butler told ABC News. “The debate certainly brought it to our attention,” she said. “I always think of myself as the person with the mop and the broom and the bucket who’s cleaning up the language after the party’s over.”
Opposition members were unimpressed with the dictionary’s decision. “Ms. Gillard called Mr. Abbott a misogynist. Mr. Abbott clearly does not hate women,” Senator Fiona Nash told the Morning Herald. “It would seem more logical for the Prime Minister to refine her vocabulary than for the Macquarie Dictionary to keep changing its definitions every time a politician mangles the English language.”
Nearly two million people have watched Gillard’s rant on Youtube since it was posted last week. Her attack was prompted after the Opposition leader said that the House Speaker should step down over a mounting scandal about inappropriate text messages sent to another staffer. Speaker Peter Slipper did eventually step down, but not until Gillard did this:
By Emily Senger - Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 10:37 AM - 0 Comments
Julia Gillard’s speech questioned after speaker resigns
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is making headlines after she lashed out at opposition leader Tony Abbott, calling him sexist and misogynist during an impassioned speech in Parliament.
According to The Herald Sun, Gillard launched into her tirade after Abbott questioned the prime minister’s appointment of speaker Peter Slipper, who has been at the centre of a scandal after he was found to have sent a text message to a former staffer, comparing women’s genitalia to mussels.
“I say to the leader of the opposition, I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man,” Gillard said. “If he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn’t need a motion, he just needs to look in the mirror.”
Gillard went on to say that Abbott should be the one ready to resign for his history of sexist remarks and actions.
In her speech, Gillard, who is the country’s first female prime minister, said that she has been personally offended by the opposition leaders’ actions. She cited examples, saying Abbott told her to “make an honest woman of herself” and that he stood beside protesters outside of Parliament, who were holding signs that said “ditch the witch” and another one that described her as a “bitch.”
Slipper later resigned for his actions, leading pundits to ask why Gillard went to so much effort to defend a speaker whose actions were deplorable in the first place. An excerpt from The Australian editorial reads: “Yet, undignified as the manner of his departure may have been, Mr. Slipper yesterday showed better judgment than Julia Gillard, who just four hours earlier was defending the indefensible by backing him to the hilt.”
Gillard’s speech seems to show a double standard, writes Sydney Morning Herald political editor Peter Hartcher. “The moment Gillard rose to defend Slipper and keep him in office, she chose to defend the indefensible, to excuse the inexcusable. The government had spent a month vilifying Tony Abbott for having ‘a problem with women.’ But when one of the bulwarks of the government was exposed as having a problem with women, it was suddenly acceptable.”
By Martin Patriquin - Monday, February 6, 2012 at 8:20 AM - 0 Comments
Garth Brooks resurfaces, Jonathan Franzen’s new snit, and Christine Sinclair sends Canada to London
A model union
The union movement just got a whole lot more photogenic. Sara Ziff, a waifish 29-year-old model from Manhattan, is the industry’s first labour leader. Launching in February, Ziff’s Model Alliance hopes to enforce ﬁnancial transparency laws, as well as sexual harassment and health care issues for U.S. catwalkers. Contrary to the glossy fantasy, Ziff says, modelling is a bruising, exploitation-prone industry that chews up and spits out the vast majority of those who try to make a go of it. Ziff, who quit the industry at 25 after an A-list career modelling the likes of Calvin Klein and Stella McCartney, says Model Alliance isn’t a union per se, but a regulatory agency that will police the industry.
Julia’s very bad week
Pity Julia Gillard. The Australian prime minister had to be dragged to safety by bodyguards after Aboriginal protesters crashed an awards ceremony on Australia Day. What’s worse, the protesters were actually targeting opposition leader Tony Abbott, who earlier in the day had criticized an Aborigine occupation of the grounds outside Parliament House. It was the second time in as many weeks Gillard had to retreat. She recently said a gift she’d received from the Queen was paid for by Aussie taxpayers. Gillard was incorrect, and the Queen was not amused.
By Emma Teitel - Tuesday, October 4, 2011 at 10:50 AM - 0 Comments
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is under fire for depicting the PM having sex under the country’s flag
The primarily publicly funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has drawn the ire of feminists and politicians alike for its “pathetic and disrespectful” TV depiction of Prime Minister Julia Gillard having sexual intercourse on her office floor beneath the Australian flag. The controversial scene took place last week on the ABC’s new show, At Home With Julia (the season started airing Sept. 7), a comedy about the PM’s private life starring Amanda Bishop as Gillard and Phil Lloyd as the PM’s real-life boyfriend, Tim Mathieson. Critics of the show—some of whom include MPs in Gillard’s Labor Party and parents of Australian war veterans, say the sex scene—however fictional—is disrespectful to both the PM and the country in general. One MP even suggested that government funding for the ABC be internally reviewed. And Gillard isn’t the only public figure under the magnifying glass either: her assistant treasurer, Bill Shorten, has described the show as “very tasteless” (his character is played by a dog). As for Gillard herself? “I’ve got some bigger things on my mind,” the PM told an Australian news program recently, “so I won’t be commenting on it.”
By Alex Ballingall, Jonathon Gatehouse, Cathy Gulli, Nicholas Köhler, Chris Sorensen, and Patricia Treble - Friday, September 23, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
A murderess goes to school, Toronto city hall smells a rat and Michaele Salahi’s husband stops believin’
Siren car swan song
The last of America’s most popular police car, the Ford Crown Victoria, rolled off an assembly line in St. Thomas, Ont., last week. The Ford plant closure, first announced in 2009 at the nadir of North America’s manufacturing doldrums, puts 1,100 people out of work in the rust-belt town, best known as the place where Jumbo, the P.T. Barnum circus elephant, died after being hit by a train in 1885. Big and blocky, the Crown Vic had long been popular with police departments and cab companies for its durability and roominess. Still, it got just 10 km a litre and had sold poorly—yet another dead jumbo in St. Thomas.
It was just six weeks ago that Mike Tindall married Zara Phillips, the Queen’s granddaughter. But the honeymoon is definitely over for the muscular captain of England’s Rugby World Cup squad. While out celebrating a tournament-opening victory over Argentina this week, Tindall and his teammates got tipsy and scrummed several young ladies in the bar. Good clean fun, until the papers back home got hold of the photos of Tindall canoodling with a “mystery blond.” We are not amused.
Shortly before U.S. Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer received the Medal of Honor for rushing into an Afghan “killing zone” to rescue 36 troops in 2009, the 23-year-old and his family met privately with President Barack Obama. They weren’t alone. João Silva, a New York Times photographer whose legs were blown off by a land mine last October in Afghanistan, was invited by Meyer and Obama to capture the meeting. Silva found the assignment—his first outside the confines of military hospitals where he is undergoing extensive rehabilitation—difficult on prosthetic legs. Though the photographs were deemed “strong” by his paper, Silva said, “I wasn’t getting the shots. I was missing the shots.”
Billionaire boys’ club
RIM’s fall from tech-industry grace has hit a symbolic milestone for Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, co-CEOs of the Waterloo, Ont.-based company, who have lost their status as billionaires. Both Balsillie and Lazaridis own ﬁve per cent of the company shares, a chunk that was worth an estimated US$1.9 billion in February. Now their shares are worth about US$640 million, according to Bloomberg estimates. This month, Jaguar Financial even advised RIM to sell itself off. With Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android-based phones chipping away at RIM’s former glory, maybe BlackBerrys just aren’t as sexy anymore.
Kristoffer Clausen became a folk hero in his native Norway when he spent a year living off the harsh land with just a rifle, fishing rod and a dog for companionship. A book recounting his adventures, which began in 2009, became a bestseller and spawned a TV series and even a sponsorship deal. However, a local newspaper recently revealed the story was just too good to be true. It turns out that he’d supplemented his spartan live-off-the-land lifestyle by shopping in malls, living in a Swedish cottage for a month and even renting a car. “I’m sorry for doing it,” he finally confessed. “I’ve been an idiot.”
Don’t stop believing
If the myth persists that housewives lead boring lives, look to Michaele Salahi for proof of the contrary. The star of the (cancelled) Real Housewives of D.C. was reported missing by her bankrupt wine merchant husband Tareq after she disappeared last week. Six hours later, the rakish blond turned up in Tennessee—where she was romancing Neal Schon, guitarist of the ’80s band Journey, who described their relationship as “intimate and passionate.” This attention-grabbing charade should come as no shock: Salahi and her husband crashed a White House dinner in 2009, claiming they were invited, and she once fibbed about working as a Washington Redskins cheerleader. Why lie when your real life is this unbelievable?
Alberta’s great race
Gary Mar had a good week. The prospective leader of Alberta’s indefatigable Progressive Conservative government handily won the first round of voting in the party’s leadership race, winning 41 per cent of the tally at a convention in Calgary. Just a few days later, Mar gained requisite right-wing “cred” when two fellow leadership candidates—Ted Morton and Rick Orman—emerged from his campaign bus to give him their endorsement. The upstart Wildrose party has threatened to dig into the PCs’ right flank with rhetoric that echoes that of the Tea Party. So it’s little wonder that Mar was all smiles as he and his two big-name supporters spoke of his fiscal conservatism and economic level-headedness. After all, if Mar wins, he’ll immediately become Alberta’s newest PC premier: perennial top dog in the province.
Rehab? No, no, no.
Canada’s youngest multiple killer, who went by the online handle Runaway Devil, has resurfaced as a freshman at a Calgary university. The girl, who can’t be named by law, was just 12 when she convinced her 23-year-old boyfriend, Jeremy Allan Steinke, to kill her mother, father and eight-year-old brother inside their Medicine Hat, Alta., home back in 2006. Her 10-year sentence, part of which was spent at an Edmonton psychiatric hospital, will be completed one year after she is scheduled to graduate in 2015. But the girl’s lawyer now says her rehabilitation plan has been derailed after the Calgary Herald revealed details about her studies. A sentencing review has been postponed.
Jacqueline Kennedy was just 34 and four months a widow when she submitted to a recorded interview with Arthur Schlesinger Jr., a historian and one-time aide to her husband, president John F. Kennedy. The chat is part of an oral history of Camelot released last week that reveals a woman of sharp judgment. Indira Gandhi, later India’s PM, was “pushy” and “bitter.” French president Charles de Gaulle was an “egomaniac.” Martin Luther King Jr., meanwhile, was “a phony” who carried on extramarital affairs. She reserves her harshest criticism for former Canadian PM John Diefenbaker, whom she met during a visit with her husband in May 1961 and calls “painful.” During a lunch, the Dief “insisted on telling all these Churchill stories . . . calling him old Winston or ‘the old boy’ or something.” Boring.
It took two brothers, Bill and Eric MacDonald, whose lives both revolve around the same street in Stratford, P.E.I., a whole week to realize that each of them had adopted orphaned baby raccoons one day this past summer. Bill, 69, found his outside BJ’s International Truck Centre, the family business, and took him in, buying kitten milk and a small bottle. He and his wife, Joan, named him Rambo because, Bill says, “he destroys everything,” including eating two keys off Joan’s laptop. One day, Eric, 72, who lives across the street, visited Bill’s office and spotted Rambo. “He thought it was his ’coon,” Bill says. Eric had adopted Rambo’s brother the same day and called him Rascal. But Bill and Eric must soon release the animals. Rambo already weighs 10 lb. “After they get a year old they get to be ferocious,” says Bill.
Wives on the bus
When world leaders and dignitaries gather, there is plenty of pomp to the affair: red carpets are rolled out, ﬂags are raised, armoured cars convoy. Unless, perhaps, the politician is a woman. Last week, during a gathering of Pacific nation leaders, Julia Gillard, the prime minister of Australia, was kicked off the “leaders’ bus” and redirected to the bus for political wives. Gillard’s aide corrected them, and the PM took her hard-earned seat.
Toronto City Hall has long had problems with mice and squirrels—never, you might be surprised to learn, with rats. But last week, a big bruiser of a rodent found its way into budget chief Mike Del Grande’s office, and later bit a city worker sent to remove it. The interloper was just one episode in a whole panoply of goings-on at City Hall, where Mayor Rob Ford—he of “gravy train” fame—has been attempting to push through budget cuts. Quipped left-leaning Coun. Adam Vaughan of the animal: “It was looking for gravy, it didn’t find any so it ate a city worker.” The rat was put down. Even dead, he is likely more popular than the mayor, whose approval ratings have tanked.
Golf’s next great?
Teen golf prodigy Alexis Thompson became the youngest ever LPGA Tour winner last week, stunning the golfing world. The 16-year-old—who, at 12, became the youngest woman to qualify for the U.S. Open—called the win the “best feeling ever.”
By Charlie Gillis, Chris Sorensen and Nicholas Köhler - Friday, February 4, 2011 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
Kim Campbell schools the U.S. right, Naomi Campbell’s ‘Frost-Nixon moment,’ and Nabokov was right
A breath of fresh Canadian air
The usual right vs. left political jabber of American talk TV was punctuated this week by a few clear-eyed statements courtesy of Canada’s first female prime minister. On Real Time With Bill Maher, former Progressive Conservative leader Kim Campbell called Republican Jack Kingston‘s views on global warming “absolute rubbish,” pointing out to the Georgia congressman that scientists didn’t set out looking for a non-existent problem just to torture right-leaning politicians. When the conversation shifted toward the evolution vs. creation debate, Campbell asked if Kingston was concerned about the alarming rise of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms in hospitals. He squirmed. “That’s evolution,” she said to applause. Does 132 days as PM preclude Campbell from a future in politics?
In addition to writing great novels, Vladimir Nabokov was a self-taught expert on the evolutionary biology of butterflies—though, like any amateur, the Lolita author faced skepticism from the scientific establishment. Now one of his most audacious theories has been proven right. A paper published by the Royal Society has endorsed Nabokov’s hypothesis that butterflies are not indigenous to North America, but rather arrived in a series of “waves” from Asia. The new research was made possible by gene-sequencing technology Nabokov never had. Said Naomi Pierce, a Harvard expert who co-authored the study: “It’s really quite a marvel.”
Single White Premier seeks less idiotic press
With three female premiers and a female prime minister, Julia Gillard, Australian voters seem fairly accustomed to the idea of women in politics. The media? Not so much. The country’s biggest national newspaper, the Australian, ran a front-page story about Tasmanian premier Lara Giddings‘s first day in office that zeroed in on her comments (in response to a reporter’s question) about the challenges of snaring a husband when you’re a busy politician. The headline read: “Leftist Lara still looking for Mr. Right.” Critics shook their heads. “Why on Earth was this suddenly relevant the day Giddings became Tasmania’s first female premier?” asked one Sydney Morning Herald columnist, noting Giddings was previously an unmarried treasurer and an unmarried attorney general. “It was not as if she had landed from Mars.”
By Julia Belluz - Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 1:20 PM - 0 Comments
Her opponent pulls out the family card in an effort to topple the childless Prime Minister down under
For Australia’s first female prime minister, the decision not to have children was a political one. Julia Gillard, also the first unmarried leader of the world’s smallest continent, recently cited Baroness Margaret Thatcher’s son Mark—once convicted of taking part in an attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea—when she argued that children can detract from a life in politics, and may even become a political liability. But now this decision to be childless, and Gillard’s gender, are becoming themes in the run-up to the country’s Aug. 21 election, which Gillard called after only three weeks in office.
The campaign is pitting the 48-year-old Gillard and her Labour government against the Conservative leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott, 52. So far, Abbott, who needs to win only an extra nine seats to form a government, has attempted to use his wife and three daughters to differentiate himself from Gillard, and improve his ratings with female voters. When asked whether he is playing the family card to win the election, he said: “I think families are important, I take them seriously.”
By Paul Wells - Monday, August 2, 2010 at 12:20 AM - 0 Comments
Fortunately the nation is Australia, so nobody over here needs to feel bad. I’ve never heard of any of my colleagues mentioned in this piece or this partial and tentative defence, but the professional maladies being diagnosed are awfully familiar.
So I waited for some questions from the journalists. They came and guess what, they were all about politics. They were about Mark Latham’s comments about his believing Kevin Rudd leaked to Laurie Oakes. They were about foreigners owning our farms and whether he disagreed with a National’s senator. They were about nothing to do with the press conference. Did they test the policy? Did they ask who will qualify and why? Nope. Not at all.
Like so much that happens in Australia, coverage of their election is a funhouse-mirror reflection of the way things work here, with many parallels and just enough differences to discourage cheap comparisons. (The election is going poorly for pinch-hitting Labor PM-come-lately Julia Gillard, but there I go, focusing on the horse race instead of the issues.) I learned about the two blog posts I link above, incidentally, from this piece in Crikey, an independent, well-funded political website closer to Politico than to anything anyone has put together in Canada.
By macleans.ca - Friday, July 16, 2010 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Unforgettable goal, unforgettable friend, The pride of the ‘Peg and If you’re Canadian, say ‘I do’
Unforgettable goal, unforgettable friend
When Andrés Iniesta clinched the World Cup after smashing home the game winner deep into overtime, he honoured his friend Dani Jarque. Spain’s humble playmaker tore off his jersey, revealing an undershirt with the words “Dani Jarque: always with us” written in blue marker. Jarque, a teammate on Spain’s lineup since the pair cracked the under-15 squad, died a year ago, aged 26, a month after being made captain of Espanyol.
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.