By Katie Engelhart - Friday, January 25, 2013 - 0 Comments
The coffee juggernaut plans to open a café in Montmartre, to the dismay of locals
Earlier this month, Starbucks announced plans to open a café on the old stomping grounds of Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso in the storied Parisian neighbourhood of Montmartre. In response, the association Paris Fierté (Paris Pride) is circulating a petition and planning to protest its arrival. “Opinion,” the association says, “oscillates between anger and fatalism.”
Paris Fierté spokesperson Pierre Brabant warns that Starbucks’ attempt to breach Montmartre could be “the drop of coffee that makes the vase overflow.” The global giant opened its first French branch in 2004. But there are just 81 Starbucks in France, compared with more than 1,000 in Canada, and France’s Starbucks have yet to turn a profit.
In response, Starbucks has changed tactics—offering croque monsieur and pain perdu alongside its blueberry-studded jumbo muffins.
Laurent Pauzié, a young engineer in Paris, believes the Starbucks outlets “are only here to comfort tourists when they’re lost.” Kate Menzies, a Canadian living in Paris, is more accommodating. Starbucks, she says, “is one of the few places with public toilets and free WiFi in the city.”
By Kaj Hasselriis - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 7:30 AM - 0 Comments
Paris drivers fight back against the mayor’s war on cars
Every weekday, Juliana Park wakes up in her Paris apartment near leafy Bois de Vincennes park, carries her 10-month-old daughter two blocks to the nearest metro station, drops her at a nanny’s, then heads to work—sometimes by foot, sometimes by bike, but never by car. In fact, the Canadian-born architect is rarely in a car. “You really have no excuse in Paris,” she says.
Park, it seems, is far from the only Parisian going car-free: car use in Paris has dropped 25 per cent in the last 10 years. Bike use, meanwhile, has doubled, and one out of every two trips now happens on foot. Park is glad that, while navigating cobblestone sidewalks, her daughter gets a child’s-eye view of bakeries, crepe stands and schoolchildren on scooters, instead of seeing it all whoosh by from the back seat of a car. “Even though she’s still really young,” says Park, “she’s getting a better sense of her environment.” Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë, who has eliminated 23,000 parking spots to make way for bike and bus lanes and built the massively popular Vélib’ bike-sharing network (an idea later copied in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa), is at least partly responsible for Paris’s new, bike-friendly face. But the mayor’s latest plan—to pedestrianize a section of the Seine riverbank—is causing a powerful lobby group, 40 millions d’automobilistes, to fight back. “We can no sooner eliminate cars from Paris roads than empty the Seine of water,” says executive director Pierre Chasseray. “Delanoë is living a fantasy.” Continue…
By Kate Lunau - Monday, August 13, 2012 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
Sunbathers at Paris Plages must cover up
For the past decade, Parisians have flocked each summer to Paris Plages, which transforms the banks of the Seine River to a series of urban beaches. All the necessities are there: white sand, parasols, roving ice cream vendors, even free concerts. One site currently has a giant screen allowing loungers to catch the Olympics.
But some appear to have been taking the beach theme a little too far. While topless sunbathing is welcome on beaches outside the city, Paris police are warning sunbathers to dress “in accordance with good morals and public order,” or face a fine of at least $46. Anyone who bares all and shows their “genital area or breasts” could face a much higher penalty—a year in prison.
Paris Plages, now in its eleventh year, was created by Socialist mayor Bertrand Delanoë to provide a beachside holiday to those who couldn’t afford to leave the city. Some criticized it as an expensive frivolity, but it’s expanded several times, a testament to its popularity, even without full-frontal nudity.
By Alex Derry - Monday, September 26, 2011 at 10:20 AM - 1 Comment
A new ban against street prayer in France sends Muslims looking for space to worship
Just as Muslims throughout France prepared for their Friday prayers, the government passed a ban on Sept. 16 outlawing the increasingly common practice of praying in the street. Despite the ban being seen by some as an example of Nicolas Sarkozy’s government kowtowing to right-wing voters seven months before an election, and a small group of worshippers protesting the new measure in Paris, many among France’s five-million-strong Muslim population welcome the prospect of getting off the streets, provided they have somewhere else to pray.
France has enforced the separation of church and state since 1905, but a growing tide of anti-Muslim sentiment among the country’s more right-leaning groups has put pressure on Sarkozy to crack down on religious displays in public spaces. Particularly in cities, such as Paris and Marseilles, mosques are located in small buildings and storefronts with little space, leaving many worshippers no other option but to face Mecca in the street. Marine le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front, has equated Muslims praying in Paris’s streets to the Nazi invasion of France in the Second World War, albeit “without the tanks or soldiers,” but instead with fundamentalist displays in a proudly secular society. “Praying in the street is not dignified for religious practice and violates the principles of secularism,” Interior Minister Claude Guéant told Le Figaro. “All Muslim leaders are in agreement.”
Mohammed Salah Hamza is one of those leaders. As the imam who leads some 2,000 Muslims at a makeshift mosque in a vacant fire station in northern Paris, which opened on the day the ban became law, he says that moving worshippers into an actual place of worship is “the beginning of a solution.” But Hamza called on the government to be more accommodating to France’s Muslim population—the biggest in Western Europe—and opposed being herded into makeshift spaces. “We are not cattle,” Hamza told France’s TF1 News. The 2,000-sq.-metre fire station was only handed over to worshippers under a three-year lease two days before the deadline, after an uneasy accord was reached with municipal authorities. In Marseilles, a disused hangar was set aside as a temporary mosque in a similar deal, but is in a state of such disrepair that it was unusable for the Sept. 16 deadline. Guéant estimates that half of the country’s 2,000 mosques have been built in the last decade.
By Leah Mclaren - Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 8:40 AM - 6 Comments
The acclaimed designer is expected to return to the fashion world—anti-semitic slurs be damned
Earlier this month, a Paris court found fashion designer John Galliano guilty of “public insults based on origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity,” for his now-notorious anti-Semitic rant in a Paris café.
It was, of course, a crime for which the disgraced designer had months ago been sentenced in the court of public opinion, and rightly so. The diatribe in which he slurred “I love Hitler” in the faces of a couple of astonished women was caught on video and later posted online. After Galliano’s arrest in February, for which he was dropped both as head of the House of Dior as well as his own eponymous label, his career prospects seemed forever dashed. But now that the court case is over and the dust is beginning to settle, some fashion world observers are speculating that a comeback might be in the cards. “Given how superficial the fashion world can be—and how cynical—it could be that Galliano’s very notoriety makes him a short-term money-spinner,” Telegraph deputy fashion editor Luke Leitch wrote last week after the verdict came down.
The court found the designer guilty after hearing testimony from patrons who’d experienced Galliano’s abuse on several separate occasions over the past year. Plaintiff Geraldine Bloch testified that the designer remarked on her “dirty Jewish face” and called her a “ ‘dirty whore’ at least a thousand times” in a 45-minute rant as she shared a drink with a friend on the patio of La Perle, an establishment located in the Marais, the lively gay district and historic Jewish quarter of Paris. And another victim, Fatiha Oummedour, told the court of a separate occasion on which an inebriated Galliano taunted her as “ugly Jewish” at the same café a few months earlier.
By Brian Bethune - Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 7:45 AM - 0 Comments
Book by David McCullough
There was a time, between the deadly struggles of the French and Indian wars and the days of freedom fries and surrender monkeys, when Americans reserved their greatest foreign admiration and respect for the French. Between the Marquis de Lafayette’s timely aid in the Revolutionary War and the gift of the Statute of Liberty, Americans poured into Paris seeking what they could not find at home: advanced training in painting, science, medicine and the art of living. Frenchmen came west too, most notably Alexis de Tocqueville and King Louis-Philippe, who probably saw more of the U.S. during his years of exile there—he once worked as a waiter in a Boston oyster bar—than most of the Americans he made welcome in France during his reign (1830 to 1848).
But it’s the traffic from his country to France that animates McCullough, 77, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, in his beautifully told story. He’s assembled a remarkable cast. Among the 700 American medical students who studied in Paris between 1830 and 1860—an era in which American doctors were not legally required to have advanced training—was Elizabeth Blackwell, who studied obstetrics and gynecology, both ignored at home since American doctors were not in the habit of giving female patients “intimate” examinations. She came home to found a New York hospital entirely run by women. Artists included James Fenimore Cooper and Samuel Morse, who flourished as a painter before picking up in France an odd idea that he later turned into the telegraph.
Most of them also managed to enjoy what Cooper called “a little pleasure concealed in the bottom of the cup.” On a grander scale, dozens came back to the U.S. with ideas for the parks and museums that would transform the cities of the Eastern seaboard, while a few recorded transformations in their personal, including sexual, lives. Side benefits, McCullough notes, for the eastbound travellers who transformed their nation as much as its westward pioneers.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, March 18, 2011 at 7:32 PM - 84 Comments
Amid all else, the Prime Minister announced this morning that Canada will be participating in the enforcement of the United Nations resolution against Libya. Parliament will apparently be consulted and formal approval will apparently be required if the mission is extended beyond three months. Mr. Harper is on his way tonight to a summit in Paris to discuss the matter with other world leaders.
Herein, his remarks to reporters today.
Good morning. Since the crisis in Libya first began, Canada has taken a strong and decisive position. Working closely with our allies, we have evacuated Canadian citizens, put in place tough sanctions and called on the Gadhafi regime to stop the bloodshed and immediately step down. Despite these actions, the situation in Libya remains intolerable.
Last night, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution endorsing immediate action to protect Libyan citizens from the threat of further slaughter. Canada, in cooperation with our allies and other members of the international community, worked to gain support for this resolution. We will now take the urgent action necessary to support it.
By Leah Mclaren - Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at 11:03 AM - 2 Comments
Hopping from rooftops, scaling walls and fences—it’s all part of the sport’s ever-growing popularity
On a dark, damp January afternoon in an abandoned south London council estate, an 11-year-old boy is trying to summon up the courage to jump off a six-foot-high brick wall onto a concrete bollard. He crosses and uncrosses his skinny arms, assessing the distance, then shakes his head. “I can’t do it.”
“Yes you can,” a man in a hoodie standing on the ground below instructs him. “Just bend your knees, spring up and forward. Let your legs absorb the impact.” The boy leaps, one trainer-clad foot flung out in front, but at the last second dodges the bollard and lands on the pavement beside it. The hooded head shakes, then speaks. “That fear you feel? It’s all in your head. Now try again.”
Welcome to the inner-city grit and inspiration of parkour—a training discipline and urban lifestyle philosophy that has become a British fitness obsession.
Initially called the “art of displacement,” and more commonly “free-running,” the practice originated 25 years ago in the suburbs of Paris among a small group of young, ethnically diverse French men determined to use the concrete jungle to strengthen both the body and the mind. This founding group of nine, known in parkour circles as the legendary “Yamakasi” (a Lingala word that translates to “strong spirit”), combined the influences of Japanese anime, Jackie Chan movies, martial arts and even comic book superheroes to bring a Zen-like focus and discipline to the age-old childhood pastime of scaling walls, hopping fences and jumping from roof to roof.
By Kate Lunau - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 11:20 AM - 0 Comments
Money paid into a pot covers the fines for cheating the Paris subway
Sneaking onto the Paris Métro to avoid paying the fare is a tradition as old as the subway system itself—but it carries the risk of getting caught, and the prospect of a hefty fine of up to 72 euros (about $95 Canadian). Now, enterprising groups of fare dodgers are banding together to create an insurance policy of sorts: by paying into a common pot each month, they collectively cover any fines incurred by members. They’ll keep at it, they say, until Paris starts offering public transit for free.
By Kate Lunau - Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
The machine is the centrepiece of a new crime exhibit
A new exhibit at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris features works by some of the greatest names in art: René Magritte, Francisco Goya, Pablo Picasso. Among all these masterpieces, one macabre fixture is stealing the show. Draped in a black veil, a guillotine is on display.
Called Crime and Punishment after Dostoyevsky’s novel, the exhibit features works like Paul Cézanne’s La femme étranglée, which depicts a murder taking place, and a painting by Théodore Géricault, also used in the museum’s promotional material, that shows dismembered arms and feet wrapped in gory bandages. (As some pieces may be shocking, children are warned against attending.) Lawyer and former French justice minister Robert Badinter, who was instrumental in setting up the exhibit, calls it an attempt to “see crime and justice through the artist’s eyes.” But it’s also a comment on France’s sometimes bloody past, as the guillotine makes clear. The 14-foot-tall machine (last used to execute murderer Hamida Dhandoubi, in 1977) is installed near a quote from Victor Hugo. “One can have a certain indifference about the death penalty,” it says, “until one has seen the guillotine.”
Badinter should know. A crusader against the death penalty, abolished in 1981, Badinter, who once witnessed the death of a client by guillotine, pushed for its inclusion in the exhibit. “This instrument of death has become a museum object,” he said. “What a victory for supporters of abolishing the death penalty!”
Museum object or not, it remains a powerful symbol of capital punishment and revolutionary violence, says Samir Saul, a professor of French history at the Université de Montréal, adding that its inclusion undoubtedly “opens old wounds.” In a recent interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, Badinter recalled how, after abolition in 1981, he requested the guillotine be displayed in a museum—but not for at least 25 years, so tempers had a chance to cool.
By Michael Petrou - Saturday, February 20, 2010 at 9:42 PM - 25 Comments
They’ll always have Paris
The 2008 war between Russia and Georgia was brought to a supposed end with a peace deal brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the agreement, which called for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgian territory, and promptly ignored it. Russian soldiers remained in Georgia for two months, and are still stationed in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which most of the world recognizes as part of Georgia but which Russia declared to be independent states—another violation of the agreement.
Russia’s actions were a clear slap in the face to France. As Sarkozy himself pointed out, his signature was also on the document. And yet today, less than two years later, France has agreed to sell Russia as many as four Mistral amphibious assault ships—massive and technologically sophisticated vessels that can each transport and deploy 16 helicopters, four landing barges, 70 vehicles including 13 tanks, and more than 400 soldiers. They also include a hospital and can be used as amphibious command platforms. “A ship like that would have allowed the Black Sea fleet to accomplish its mission in 40 minutes, not 26 hours, which is how long it took us,” Russian naval commander Vladimir Vysotsky boasted, referring to the 2008 conflict.
The money that each $750-million boat will bring to France’s underused shipyards likely helped Sarkozy get over the Georgian war snub. But France is also a member of the NATO military alliance, which in April 2008 predicted Georgia and Ukraine would one day join it. The impending sale also coincides with the release of Russia’s latest military doctrine, which identified NATO’s eastward expansion as the main external military danger facing Russia.
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.
By Ken MacQueen - Friday, October 23, 2009 at 8:00 AM - 2 Comments
Newsmakers of the week
The thorn in Stelmach’s side
It was a rough week for Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach. A new poll suggests he and his Progressive Conservatives are in free fall. His televised speech, intended to reassure Albertans about his handling of the recession, was widely panned and his attempt to set an austerity example with a 15-per-cent cut in his premier’s allowance fell on deaf ears. The nurses’ and teachers’ unions have rejected his call for voluntary wage freezes. And on Saturday, the Wildrose Alliance chose former journalist Danielle Smith as its new leader—continuing the Alliance’s evolution from cranky protest party to credible conservative alternative.
To ghostbust, you must first believe
Peter Aykroyd, an 87-year-old former federal civil servant who lives in a spirit-infested family homestead north of Kingston, Ont., has penned one of the season’s odder memoirs. A History of Ghosts: The True Story of Seances, Mediums, Ghosts, and Ghostbusters tells the multi-generational story of his spiritualist family. The foreword is supplied by his famous son, Dan, Saturday Night Live comedian and co-writer of the hit movie Ghostbusters. Dan writes how his family, from his great-grandfather onwards, were serious and scientific investigators of the paranormal. “Part of Ghostbusters’ appeal derives from the cold, rational, acceptance-of the-fantastic-as-routine tone that Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, director Ivan Reitman, and I were able to sustain in the movie,” he writes. With good reason: the Aykroyds are believers. Dan’s grandfather was a Bell Telephone engineer who considered the possibility of contacting the spirit realm via a crystal radio set. And one of Dan’s daughters, he writes, claims “glops of light and other shapes attend her when pictures are taken in and around the old family farmhouse.”
They did it for their families
An extramarital affair with a legislative assembly clerk has damaged the personal life and reputation of Northwest Territories Premier Floyd Roland. Now his political future rests with Ted Hughes, a no-nonsense former judge and one-time B.C. conflict-of-interest commissioner. Hughes conducted a hearing in Yellowknife to determine if Roland breached the public trust by keeping secret his relationship with clerk Patricia Russell. Both were married and have since left their spouses to live together. During the hearing Russell denied allegations she shared confidential caucus discussions with her lover. Roland told Hughes they kept the affair secret out of consideration for their families. Hughes may table his report by the end of October.
Beatles vs. Stones, next generation
The children of two of rock’s biggest names have taken a different approach to fame. James McCartney, son of Paul, has always avoided attention. He recently debuted his band Light to just 30 people in a tiny Oxford pub. McCartney, 32, and his band went to extraordinary attempts to conceal the name and parentage of their lead singer. “James has a way with melody,” wrote an approving gossip columnist for the tabloid Sun, “and a set of pipes which are more than a match for his dad’s.” Meantime, Mick Jagger’s toothy daughter Georgia May Jagger is sprawled topless atop a Union Jack in a new advertising campaign for Hudson Jeans. While crossed arms or strategic camera angles keep the photos just on this side of decency, they have still caused a stir, because, to paraphrase an old Beatles tune, she is just 17.
This little piggy went to Paris
Newsmakers spoke in haste last week when it suggested Paris Hilton was unlikely to acquire a British-bred micro-pig because the extremely intelligent animals aren’t available in the U.S. Hilton has now ordered a bred-in-the-U.S. Royal Dandie Extreme miniature pot-bellied pig from an Oregon breeder. “So excited for my new piglette [sic] to come home to me,” she Tweeted on Friday. The always predictable folks at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are less than enthused, saying she treats her pets as “disposable.” In fact, the pet-loving Hilton has quite a menagerie; it’s boyfriends that end up in the discard pile.
From hell, straight to Whistler
Skateboarding San Diego chef Dave Levey survived the fire-and-brimstone of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay to win the top prize on his Hell’s Kitchen reality show on Fox TV. Levey wins a job for a year working under executive chef James Walt at Araxi Restaurant in Whistler. He starts Jan. 4, barely a month before the start of the Winter Olympics. Of course, he’s survived greater challenges. Not only did he endure the usual hazing by Ramsay, he spent most of the competition in pain after breaking his wrist. Such grit, combined with the 32-year-old’s skater-boy vibe, should make for a perfect Whistler fit. Levey says the tightly edited reality show was mostly real. “What people saw,” he says, “is very similar to who I am.”
Curves and all
Meghan McCain, daughter of former U.S. Republican presidential candidate John McCain, would like to get something off her chest. “Don’t call me a Slut,” she thundered in her column on the Daily Beast website. The furor erupted after McCain used Twitter to post a picture of herself spilling out of a low-cut tank top. Reaction to a revealing photo of a Republican-values gal generated almost as much Web traffic as a certain Colorado family’s errant balloon. First an abashed McCain Tweeted an apology: “I have clearly made a huge mistake and am sorry 2 those that are offended.” Then she got mad. “Honest, I don’t feel that I have anything to feel ashamed of,” she wrote in her column. “I’ve always embraced my curves and will continue to do so.”
Kids say the darnedest things
Lisa Scott of Paulina, La., promised her son Tyren she’d take him to see U.S. President Barack Obama, so last Thursday they went to the President’s town hall meeting in New Orleans. Tyren raised his hand during a question period and Obama gave him the floor. “I have to say, why do people hate you?” he stammered. “They supposed to love you…. God is love.” The President gave a diplomatic reply about how such anger is politically motivated, and people are worried about their futures. The answer was fine, but the question later gave some commentators pause. Just when and why had the hate and rage so troubling to a young boy become a daily part of American discourse? “It was a pretty good question, I must say,” Tyren’s mother later reflected.
Free from Evin
Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari was released on bail Saturday after almost four months in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. Maziar, who holds dual Iranian- Canadian citizenship, was arrested June 21 after reporting on the demonstrations following President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election. “Hopefully this is a sign that other journalists who continue to languish in jail in Iran will also be released in the near future,” said Annie Game, executive director of Canadian Journalists for Free Expres sion. Bahari’s wife, Paola Gourley, is confined to a London hospital where she is due to give birth to their first child on Oct. 26. It’s unclear if Bahari, who still faces charges, can leave Tehran to attend the birth.
Fortunately, only the marriage is dead
Just three years ago they were rockers in love. The musical marriage in 2006 of Avril Lavigne and Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley ended last week with Lavigne filing for divorce. Neither said what caused their “irreconcilable differences.” Lavigne was seen this summer in St. Tropez with oil heir Brandon Davis. Whibley was recently in Las Vegas with model Hanna Beth Merjos. It may simply be they married too young. As Lavigne said on her website, “Deryck and I have been together for 6 years. We have been friends since I was 17, started dating when I was 19, and married when I was 21. I am grateful for our time together, and I am grateful and blessed for our remaining friendship.” And Whibley is grateful to be alive. Internet rumours last weekend had him dead—not a good start to single life. Luckily that was just a hoax.
There’s a bit of a ham in any politician but the Elvis-loving former Japanese premier Junichiro Koizumi is uncommonly blessed. He once famously crooned the King’s tunes while on an official tour of Presley’s Graceland mansion. But now Koizumi, 67, is really reaching for the stars. His newest gig is as a voice actor for an extraterrestrial hero who fights aliens from outer space in the movie Mega Monster Ball: Ultra Galaxy. Sure, it was great to be premier of a major world power, but being Ultraman King has its advantages.
Sarko’s son also rises
Jean Sarkozy, all of 23 and repeating his second year at the Sorbonne, has been given a boost into the family business by his father Nicolas. The French president has appointed his son chairman of La Défense, the public agency administering France’s biggest business district, in west Paris. There are predictable cries of nepotism and even some of Sarkozy’s cabinet squirm at claims he is running a presidential monarchy. Sarkozy has denounced the “hysterical manhunt” against his son. Jean maintains a dignified silence, relying on what critics concede are two of his greatest assets: his golden good looks and his very nice hair.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 5, 2009 at 3:55 PM - 12 Comments
In a world in which our fates are inextricably linked, we should be very wary of leaning toward a commercial logic without any safeguards, one in which the “fend for yourself” mentality would make the rules.
We should be wary because today’s challenges affect every citizen of the world and every culture they represent.
We have no choice but to acknowledge the situation and expand our definition of civic responsibility as a result.
By Philippe Gohier - Monday, June 1, 2009 at 9:58 PM - 8 Comments
Experts try to piece the tragedy together, without the help of a black box, cockpit recorder or confirmation of the wreckage
[UPDATE: Brazilian military pilots have spotted aircraft debris in the area where flight 447 is believed to have gone down. An airplane seat, a life jacket, metallic debris and signs of fuel were found in two areas about 60 kilometres apart in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. However, no signs of life were detected in either area.]
Twenty-four hours after Air France flight 447 disappeared off air traffic controllers’ radar screens, precious little is known about the circumstances surrounding the event. And the bits of information that have come to light provide almost nothing in the way of an explanation about why an aircraft that’s widely considered to be among the safest in its class never reached Paris after departing Rio de Janeiro.
ALSO AT MACLEANS.CA: Searching for wreckage — and answers : Speculation is rampant, but crash investigators in the case of Air France Flight 447 are focused on the facts
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 11, 2009 at 1:59 PM - 37 Comments
Chris Selley finds someone willing to attempt an explanation of Stephen Harper’s position on Omar Khadr.
That wasn’t so hard, was it? It doesn’t change my opinion about Harper’s statement, mind you, or about Khadr. Since there is no hard-and-fast definition of child soldier, there’s nothing about the army or not-army status of the group Khadr was fighting for that would preclude Canada from treating him as a child soldier if it decided it should do so, which I think it should, because prohibitions against child soldiering don’t strike me as things governments should strive to interpret as narrowly as possible. But Harper brought it up, not Anglin. I merely asked if he could make the legal case, since the PMO wasn’t so inclined, and there it is. I present it here in hopes of furthering honest debate on the subject, a cause in which the Prime Minister seems to have little interest.
In February 2007, Canada participated in the Paris conference on children and armed conflict that resulted in Paris Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated With Armed Forces or Armed Groups. A consolidated version of the commitments made is here. The full extent of the agreement is here.
Included in those commitments is the following. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 8, 2008 at 1:36 PM - 4 Comments
Pierre Trudeau! Jacques Chirac! Marcel Proust! Christian Dior! The president of Harvard! The guy who founded the modern Olympic games! Paul Bremer!
All right, never mind that last one.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 7, 2008 at 10:03 PM - 7 Comments