Newsmakers of the week: October 22
FROM THE EDITORS | October 22, 2007 |
A POIGNANT LIFE WITH A NEW FACE
Ever since she underwent the world's first face transplant in 2005, Isabelle Dinoire has endured a long, strange recovery. She required the groundbreaking surgery after her dog, Tanya, bit off her nose and mouth. Now, in a new memoir, Dinoire describes a strange new existence. She can speak and eat, but kissing eludes her. She recounts discovering a small hair growing on her new chin and realizing that the donor must have been brunette. Before the dog attack, Dinoire had been facing feelings of suicide and had taken a large dose of sleeping pills(when she awoke she found her face bloody from Tanya's attack). Then she learned that the donor had killed herself, and that gave Dinoire a feeling of sisterhood. Today she has a new dog to replace Tanya. The animal is affectionate enough, but some instinct always prevents it from licking the new part of her face. And Dinoire has finally gotten over initial disgust at living inside someone else's skin: "Sometimes, I put my hand to my face to check that it's still there."
THE BIGGEST BANKER OF THEM ALL
The bosses at two Canadian banks toasted their acquisitions of regional U.S. financial institutions last week. But they were mere tiddlers compared to the Royal Bank of Scotland's CEO. Fred Goodwin, 49, was about to close the biggest banking deal in history. Along with Belgian-Dutch and Spanish banking partners, he was poised to spend US$101 billion snagging the giant Dutch bank ABN Amro. Buying the 183-year-old Dutch firm is just the ticket for Goodwin's plan to grow RBS into one of the world's dominant banks. Nicknamed "Fred the Shred" for brutal cost-cutting measures that catapulted thousands of workers from banks he's previously headed, Goodwin will probably make similar cuts in the ranks at ABN Amro. Job one, however, will be shredding the bank itself. RBS, along with principal partners Fortis and Banco Santander, will break up ABN Amro into three pieces. Nothing on this scale has ever been done before. Even Shred will need three years, experts say, to deal with the remains.
A FAIRY-TALE PRINCESS GETS TOUGH IN COURT
Hours before her father, King Harald V, opened the Norwegian parliament, Princess Märtha Louise was in court last week, seeking to stop publication of a book about angels that put her photo and name on its cover though she had nothing to do with the project. Her lawyer labelled the publisher "cynical parasites" for exploiting her image. The king's only daughter has been a lightning rod for otherworldly controversy ever since claiming earlier this year that she had been making "contact with angels." Though the publisher settled the court case, agreeing to apologize and remove her name from the cover, Märtha Louise's problems persist -- a veteran journalist has called the princess "a hypocrite" for apparently using his father's translations of fairy tales in her own just-published book Princess Märtha Louise's Wonderful World. Now he's asking for a halt to book sales.
THE HUNKENTENOR GOES TO NEW YORK
To legions of opera fans, 29-year-old Joseph Kaiser of Montreal is known as the "Hunkentenor" for his blue-eyed good looks and affable, thoughtful manner. Last week, he made his debut on the stage of New York City's Metropolitan Opera opposite superstar Anna Netrebko in Gounod's Roméo and Juliet. He was conducted by Plácido Domingo, who simply advised Kaiser to "have fun." Kaiser has had a storybook rise: during the 2002 Jeunesses Musicales competition in Quebec, the great singer Teresa Berganza advised him to switch from being a baritone to a tenor. Kaiser recalls: "She pulled me aside at a dinner and she said: 'Take three months, take six months. Try.' " Then came a chance to audition for a minor role in Kenneth Branagh's film of Mozart's opera, The Magic Flute. Kaiser won the lead, playing Tamino. That was one of his favourite performances, Kaiser says. The other two are singing in his synagogue and belting out O Canada at a Montreal Canadiens home game.
THE HIGH PRICE OF DOWNLOADING MUSIC
When she was slammed with a lawsuit from the Recording Industry Association of America(RIAA)for downloading copyrighted music for free off the Internet and distributing it again, 30-year-old Jammie Thomas of Minnesota did what no one else had done. The RIAA has served 26,000 other people with legal action for swapping music on file-sharing sites. All have settled with the industry, but Thomas was the first to go to trial. The closely watched proceeding ended last week with a jury awarding in favour of several recording companies. They ordered the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe employee to pay US$9,250 in damages for each tune she'd downloaded, including Destiny's Child's Bills, Bills, Bills and Sarah McLachlan's Building a Mystery. The total: a whopping US$220,000. The award infuriated critics of the recording industry. "Four venal record companies," wrote Jon Newton, editor of a website devoted to file-sharing, "have bankrupted a single mother with two chidren in their lust for money." But the win may be symbolic: pundits belive Thomas can win an appeal of the case.