How about when hell freezes over? Two degrees, no separation and The price was right

Newsmakers of the week

Stephen HarperJust prorogue his subscription
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has called The Economist one of his favourite magazines. The feeling isn’t mutual. The British journal has laid an editorial beating on the PM under the headline “Harper goes prorogue.” It condemns the “naked self-interest” it sees behind suspending Parliament until March 3, after the Olympics. It called his cabinet “a bunch of Gerald Fords,” who apparently can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, or run the country and host the Olympics. The more likely reason for proroguing, the editors say, was to avoid scrutiny on issues including Canada’s policy on handing over Afghan detainees to local authorities when they risked torture. Canadians are complacent, but only if the “government is in good hands,” the editorial ends. “They may soon conclude that it isn’t.”

Andre DawsonExpos 1, Blue Jays 0
Andre Dawson, a fan favourite of the late Montreal Expos, was finally voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, in his ninth year on the ballot. Not so lucky was former Toronto Blue Jay Roberto Alomar, who didn’t make the cut in his first year of eligibility, though few doubt that one of the best second baseman to ever play will make it to the Cooperstown, N.Y., shrine. As for Mark McGwire’s chances, fuggedaboutit. He finally admitted the obvious Monday, telling the Associated Press he was on steroids before, during and after breaking the home run record in 1998.

Going down to Luisana
Her name, Luisana Loreley Lopilato de la Torre, is almost as long as the Vancouver to Buenos Aires commute singer Michael Bublé, 34, has been making these past two years to see his lady love. This week he confirmed that he trekked down to Argentina with an engagement ring in November and proposed to the 22-year-old star of a popular South American soap opera. The two met at a record company party in Buenos Aires in late 2008. No date has been set for the wedding. Bublé’s fiancée played his imaginary love interest in his recent video for Haven’t Met You Yet, filmed in a Vancouver grocery store.

How about when hell freezes over?
Relations are frosty between Iceland’s president, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, and Britain and the Netherlands after the head of the tiny, bankrupt nation vetoed a bill to repay the countries for bailing out creditors of the failed Icesave online bank. Icesave, which lacked adequate deposit insurance, failed in 2008. Britain and the Netherlands compensated depositors in their countries for $6 billion in losses and pressured Iceland for repayment. Compensation legislation was passed in Iceland’s parliament, but Grimsson refused to sign it, and instead called a referendum, which ends March 6. The vote will determine how—or if—Iceland will reimburse the bailout. So far public opinion is behind the president; the debt amounts to 40 per cent of Iceland’s GDP, about $18,000 a person.

Keanu ReevesKeanu’s not very excellent adventure
In the imagination of Karen Sala of Barrie, Ont., Toronto-born actor Keanu Reeves hangs out at the local No Frills grocery store, disguises himself as her ex-husband, and is the father of her four adult children. Last week, Judge Fred Graham dismissed her claim for $3 million a month in spousal support. He called the case “patently unbelievable,” and assessed her $15,000 in costs. Reeves, who says he never met Sala, submitted to a DNA test to prove he wasn’t the father. His lawyer said Reeves may not enforce the cost order against the cash-strapped Sala, though he spent some $85,000 in legal fees.

Two degrees, no separation
For most university students, life in a cramped residence room is a one-year transition from leaving home to a first apartment. Not so for Alkis Gerd’son, who has lived almost continuously in a University of Victoria residence since 1991. Gerd’son graduated more than 12 years ago with his second undergraduate degree and has since dabbled in a few non-credit courses. B.C.’s Supreme Court ruled the university can evict him. Gerd’son, who says he suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder and depression, has taken his case to the provincial human rights tribunal, claiming the university is unfair to the disabled.

What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson?
Peter Robinson was Northern Ireland’s first minister and his wife, Iris, also an MP, was a religious and moral crusader who caused outrage in 2008 for saying homosexuality was as vile as child abuse. At the same time, it turns out, the first lady, now 60, was having an affair with 19-year-old Kirk McCambley, apparently after previously bedding his father, now dead. She also solicited money from property developers to help McCambley start a café. Iris has resigned her seat. Her husband, who temporarily stepped down from his post, is fighting to salvage his career. He has vowed to stay in the marriage.

Lean on us
The Chicopee ski hill in Kitchener, Ont., is short on elevation, but its skiers are big in heart. Last Thursday night the ski club paid a surprise visit to the family home of injured national team skier Kelly VanderBeek. She is there recovering from surgery for a knee injury that ended her hopes of competing in Whistler at the Olympics. A stunned VanderBeek hobbled to the door on crutches to be greeted by a crowd of 60, waving flags and singing O Canada, the song she’d hoped to hear from the podium. VanderBeek, who learned to ski at Chicopee, was moved to tears.

Omar bin LadenLife with Dad was a real blast
When your name is bin Laden, and your dad is Osama, it’s a safe bet your family life was complicated. Still, the clan has seen more than its share of drama lately. It emerged Osama’s  daughter Imam had fled the family compound near Tehran where one bin Laden wife and several children have lived under house arrest since 9/11. She sought refuge in the Saudi Embassy, and the Saudis are in talks to repatriate her. Brother Omar has since revealed another sibling, Bakr, who’s 16, has left Iran. Omar, of course, wrote the recent Growing Up Bin Laden, a portrait of a man who is a better terrorist than a father. Osama beat his children, sacrificed their pets to poison-gas experiments, and asked his sons to volunteer for suicide missions. Omar wrote, “My father hated his enemies more than he loved his sons.”

Stimulus begins at home
Balancing a trillion-dollar deficit may be less challenging for Peter Orszag, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), than flow-charting his relationships. Orszag, 41, is such a man about the Beltway he inspired a fan site, Orszgasm.com (“putting the OMG back in the OMB”). As a divorced father of two, he’s squired such dates as Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth, and venture capitalist Claire Milonas. Milonas was pregnant with their daughter when he took up with ABC reporter Bianna Golodryga. Weeks after Milonas gave birth, he and Golodryga announced their engagement. As an MSNBC headline put it, it’s a “Budget baby mama drama.”

Bob BarkerThe price was right
Affable former TV game show host Bob Barker seems an unlikely foil for the uncompromising Canadian environmentalist Paul Watson, head of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, but the two vegetarians are bitter foes of the Japanese whaling industry. Last week a Sea Shepherd speedboat and a Japanese whaler collided during a confrontation off Antarctica. Steaming to the rescue of the sinking speedboat and its crew was the 1,200-ton Bob Barker, financed by its namesake. Watson had told Barker he could put the whalers out of business for $5 million. “I have the $5 million,” Barker replied, “so let’s get it on.”

Another Reagan hits the panic button
Los Angeles police wasted no time responding to a silent alarm at 1 a.m. at the home of Michael Reagan, a conservative commentator and the adopted son of the late president Ronald Reagan. They quickly surrounded the home and arrested Michael’s 31-year-old son Cameron, who berated the officers and attempted to leave. Police say Ronnie’s grandson had been drinking. He was later released on a $10,000 bond. Michael said the “misunderstanding” resulted when his son, unaware he had tripped the alarm, panicked at the presence of police. He has had previous run-ins with police.

Tila TequilaA shot of Tequila
Reality TV star Tila Tequila has turned to Twitter in her grief over the death of her fiancée, hard-partying Johnson & Johnson heiress Casey Johnson. Tequila’s tweets soon degenerated into a slanging match with heiress Courtenay Semel, of the Yahoo! Semels. Semel has been romantically linked with both women and claimed the impending marriage was a fraud: “We’re talking about the biggest fame whore in L.A.,” a reference to Tequila. Meantime, yet another heiress, Nicky Hilton, and her socialite friend Bijou Phillips, seized two of Johnson’s dogs from a weeping Tequila. Zoey, an elderly, ill poodle, was to be put to sleep, and buried with his owner.

Careful what you wish for, Conan
In case you’re losing sleep over the state of NBC late night TV (and isn’t that the point of it?), here’s an update. Jay Leno’s prime-time show dies when NBC broadcasts the Vancouver Olympic Games next month. Leno moves to 11:35 p.m., bumping Conan O’Brien’s Tonight Show to 12:05 a.m. On Monday, O’Brien ripped NBC in his monologue and joked he’ll star in a TV movie “about a woman trapped in an abusive relationship with her network.” Then, on Tuesday, he announced he wouldn’t host the show in its new “next day” time slot. Meantime, he has an exit strategy of sorts, revealed in pre-taped comments aired for the 20th anniversary of The Simpsons, a show he once wrote for. If somebody (Fox, say?) would put him to pasture in Spain, and pay him $1 a year to write dialogue for the evil Mr. Burns, he said, “I would take that job.”

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