Newsmakers: May 19-26

Lady Gaga makes an entrance, Mark Zuckerberg learns a new skill and Saudi women are driven to rebel

Newsmaker

Kevin Mazur/Wireimage/Getty

Laying it down with Beantown

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson’s Twitter plea for help in coming up with a friendly wager with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino prompted some great ideas. “There’s a good one: sushi versus clam chowder, and swapping our best beers from two great beer-drinking cities,” Robertson told reporters in Stanley Park, a few steps from the iron statue of Lord Stanley—which currently sports a Canucks jersey. “One that I really like, that I’m going to campaign for with the mayor of Boston, is that the loser buys season’s tickets for a couple of inner-city kids in the winning city,” he said. Another favourite, he joked, would see the loser “swimming with an Orca” or “wrestling a bear.”

Ending the IMF boys’ club?

The bid by France’s Finance Minister Christine Lagarde to become the first female head of the International Monetary Fund was pushed forward at the G8 meet-up in Deauville. She once famously complained there is “too much testosterone” in high-powered circles, a comment that now looks prescient. French President Nicolas Sarkozy talked her up to Barack Obama; Hillary Clinton hailed her candidacy. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev called her the near-consensus choice, though China and India want a non-European from a developing country.

N-Y-E-T

Hockey phenom Jonathan Huberdeau has already gone high in the first round of the draft—in Russia, that is. “Yeah,” Saint John Sea Dogs coach Gerard Gallant told the National Post. “I’m sure he’s just jumping.” The 17-year-old was chosen fifth overall by Vityaz Chekhov, a Moscow-based squad. “For sure, I don’t want to go there,” Huberdeau said Sunday, hours before scoring the game-winner in an overtime Memorial Cup victory. NHL Central Scouting’s No. 3 ranked skater joins a growing list of Canadian prospects drafted into the KHL: Taylor Hall went 89th, behind Erik Gudbranson and Zach Kassian in the league’s inaugural draft two years ago. None reported to camp.

Vehicle for freedom

Saudi authorities bowed to international indignation Tuesday and freed Manal al-Sharif, who was arrested May 22 for defying the kingdom’s ban on female drivers. The 32-year-old computer security specialist had filmed herself driving a car and posted the videos on YouTube. As a condition of her release she withdrew from a planned June 17 women’s driving protest, but the movement rolls on. The establishment is revving up opposition: “Driving is a hassle,” Rima al-Mukhtar argues in Arab News, and “almost everyone,” she said, can afford a driver. “They will die, God willing, and will not enjoy this,” Saudi cleric Shaykh Abd-al-Rahman al-Barrak told Elaph.com.

Cutthroat—literally

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stunned his 847 friends on his private Internet page when he posted: “I just killed a pig and a goat.” Zuckerberg, it appears, will only eat meat he kills himself. Silicon Valley chef Jesse Cool, who runs the Flea Street Café near his Palo Alto home, connected Zuckerberg with local farmers who showed him how best to kill his first chicken, pig and goat. “He cut the throat of the goat with a knife, which is the most kind way to do it,” says Cool. His first kill was a lobster, which he boiled alive. Zuckerberg’s yen for slaughtering farm animals is his latest annual challenge. Last year, he learned Mandarin. The year before, he wore a tie to work every day. “Many people forget that a living being has to die for you to eat meat,” he told Fortune.

Silvio’s bunga- bunga blues

When Letizia Moratti’s campaign for the Milan mayoralty began to flag, Silvio Berlusconi took to his website to scare up support for his candidate: “Milan,” Italy’s hard-partying PM warned, “cannot turn into an Islamic city, a zingaropoli—Gypsytown—full of Roma camps, besieged by foreigners.” He made the ballot in his hometown a vote of confidence of his support nationally—a disastrous error of judgment. Lawyer Giuliano Pisapia knocked off Moratti in Milan and Berlusconi-backed tickets fell in four major cities, including Naples—a “slap in the face” to the government, according to Interior Minister Roberto Maroni.

So much faster than the subway

Lady Gaga always makes grand entrances. But with die-hard fans camping out for three days ahead of her concert in New York’s Central Park, the heat was on to give her “little monsters” a performance to remember. Mother Monster made good before she even set foot onstage, flying onto a smoke-filled platform via a zip line singing her hit Bad Romance and kicking off a five-song set. Her red costume included a white cape and platform heels. A turban covered up her black-and-white Cruella De Vil hair. “I live halfway between reality and theatre at all times,” Gaga, who recently knocked off Oprah to become Forbes’ most powerful celebrity, told concert sponsors Good Morning America.

The unmaking of the Liberals

In the long lead-up to the recent election, Peter C. Newman was fashioning his Michael Ignatieff biography on Theodore H. White’s series of books analyzing U.S. presidential greats—The Making of the President series. Newman even had a working title: Michael Ignatieff: the Man in Full. Several months ago, with his subject trailing in the polls, Newman realized he had to change tack—and fast. Ignatieff was not the “knight in shining armour”and “world intellectual” he and his publishers expected would beat Harper and become prime minister, Newman told the Globe and Mail. Rather, he was “the unwilling agent of the Liberals’ self-destruction.” The project’s new title? When the Gods Changed: the Death of Liberal Canada.

The hatchet remains unburied

Hillary Clinton flew to Islamabad this week to meet with President Asif Ali Zardari. She was in Pakistan to gauge the state of the always-fragile partnership between the two nations, according to U.S. offi­cials. As the New York Times put it: “It did not appear to go well.” If the president was looking for an apology for the American takedown of Osama bin Laden, it didn’t happen. When the two did appear side by side there was plenty of awkwardness and few smiles. Americans were warned about unilateral actions by the U.S. and continued drone attacks, the Pakistan Daily Times reported. Tough talk aside, “it is not clear how much of this is public posturing,” the paper noted in an editorial. “After all, national wounded pride aside, Pakistan still looks to the U.S. for help.”

No flash? No problem.

Pharmacist Darrell Pasloski became Yukon’s new premier this week. The outgoing Dennis Fentie, the country’s longest-serving premier, announced his retirement two weeks ago, with a spring leadership review looming. Pasloski, who ran unsuccessfully for the federal Tories for the territory’s single seat in 2008, easily defeated two other candidates to snag the leadership of the Yukon Party. He may not be an “inspiring talker or particularly interesting” to those outside Yukon, the Whitehorse Star wrote in an editorial, but “he’s safe and comfortable—like an old pair of shoes.”

Well, there’s herring

Brits reacted with fury to news that Marmite was being banned in Denmark this week. “What have the Danes ever done for global cuisine?” thundered the Belfast Telegraph. “If they want to take my Marmite off me, they’ll have to wrench it from my cold, dead hands,” Lyndsay Jensen, a Yorkshire-born graphic designer in Copenhagen, told the Guardian. The Scandinavian kingdom has apparently banned the stuff because it is fortified with added vitamins.

Doing unto others

What would you do if you bought a new house only to find a treasure stashed in the attic? That was the dilemma facing Josh Ferrin. The Salt Lake City artist tracked down the children of the home’s previous owner, who had died, and returned the $45,000 he found hidden in seven lockboxes above his garage. Ferrin insists he isn’t perfect: mounting bills, a car in bad need of repair and his family’s dream of adopting a child all tugged at him, he told the Deseret News. “But the money was not ours to keep, and I do not believe you get a chance very often to do something radically honest, to do something ridiculously awesome for someone else, and that is a lesson I hope to teach my children.”

Well, they got the blarney part right

“My name is Barack Obama of the Moneygall Obamas. And I’ve come to find the apostrophe we lost along the way,” the President joked on visiting his “hometown” in Ireland. Moneygall welcomed him in rhyme: “From the old Blarney stone, to the green hills of Tara, there’s no one as Irish as Barack Obama.”

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