Newsmakers

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.

The pride of the ‘Peg
Thousands of screaming Winnipeggers greeted Stanley Cup winner and Olympic gold-medallist Jonathan Toews when he brought hockey’s Holy Grail home to the ’Peg. Tazer fever, it seems, is catching. First, Premier Greg Selinger named a lake after the Conn Smythe winner—“Jonathan likes to fish,” he said, explaining why a 22-year-old deserved the honour. Not to be outdone, Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz gave Captain Serious the keys to the city, renamed his old rink the Jonathan Toews Community Centre, and launched a parade in his honour. As Blackhawks captain, Toews got to the keep the Cup two days instead of one. Lucky for Katz, he didn’t stay any longer. “Jonathan for mayor!” Winnipeg’s hockey fans demanded.

Love your job? Prove it.
“Motivation day,” for one of Italy’s top real estate agencies, ended in tears, screams and burn scars when eight Tecnocasa staffers were rushed to hospital after walking barefoot on a bed of hot coals. “Firewalking helps people overcome their fears and understand that most of what they see as their limits are self-inflicted,” athlete-turned-motivational speaker Alessandro Di Priamo, who organized the team-bonding event, told the Guardian. The burns were minimal, and no one was seriously hurt; that night, he added, he went for a 16-km run.

If you’re Canadian, say ‘I do’
Senators assistant captain Mike Fisher wed his southern belle, singer Carrie Under­wood, at the Ritz-Carlton Lodge in Greensboro, Ga., last weekend. Canuck figure-skating champ Elvis Stojko also ended his bachelorhood, announcing his recent wedding to Mexican skater Gladys Orozco, in Las Vegas. And no rings, but Ottawa’s Avril Lavigne and The Hills star Brody Jenner—nearing their five-month marker—made it clear they’re taking things to the next level, trotting out matching tattoos spelling the other’s name at a birthday party for Lindsay Lohan last weekend.

A very saucy cat burglar
Oscar, a 12-year-old British tabby has, it seems, been swiping the neighbours’ undies. “He was very proud that he found these presents for us, and would drop them at our feet,” his owner, retired teacher Peter Weismantel, told the Daily Mirror. The haul totals 70 items, socks and gloves included. Amusement soured when, last week, the klepto kitty brought home 10 pairs of children’s underwear: Weismantel turned the tabby over to police. “The officer I spoke to thought it was pretty amusing, but he could see why I was worried.” He’ll keep the naughty kitty, he says—knicker nicking and all.

A tweet too far?
Octavia Nasr sank a 20-year career with CNN in less than 140 characters. Shortly after learning of Mo­ham­med Hussein Fadlallah’s death, the senior Mid-east affairs editor tweeted her “respect” for the Israel-denouncing Shiite cleric. Criticism came fast and furious. “Is Nasr a Hezbollah sympathizer?” one website wondered. Within two days Nasr was out: her “credibility” had been “compromised,” a CNN executive explained. Britain’s ambassador to Lebanon, Frances Guy, also landed herself in hot water for a blog post—“The passing of a decent man”—removed by the Foreign Office after outrage from Israel. To some, Fadlallah was a terrorist sympathizer; to mourners in Beirut and beyond, he was a champion of women’s rights, a modern and open-minded cleric, a story that takes more than a few words to tell.

His next trick: Greene-backs
South Carolina voters got their first real glimpse of Democratic Senate candidate Alvin Greene, whose intellectual capacity and political track record—or lack thereof—have been under the U.S. media microscope. The unemployed former military man makes his first, much-anticipated public appearance with a speech to the NAACP this week. Greene, whose halting, bizarre interviews have confounded commentators like Stephen Colbert and even some Democratic party faithful, offered a unique idea last week to kick-start the U.S. economy: Alvin Greene toys. “Me in an army uniform, air force uniform, and me in my suit,” he told the Guardian. Outside-the-box thinking, he bragged—“not something a typical person would bring up.”

Anchors away
After 35 years, CTV stalwart Lloyd Robertson finally, and a touch awkwardly, announced his retirement this week in his sonorous, Count Floyd-y voice. National news correspondent Lisa LaFlamme will take the helm of CTV’s flagship news program, the network quickly announced. Then Emmy-winning NBC News foreign correspondent Dawna Friesen, a Winnipeg native, was named to replace Global National’s Kevin Newman—a record week for women in broadcast news, and a major shakeup among the country’s anchor desks.

Cops and—aw, shucks, who needs robbers?
In a desert duel surely scripted by the Coen brothers, Tony De Meo, the sheriff of Nye County, Nev., decided to have his nemesis, DA Robert Beckett, arrested on charges he was misusing funds. The DA refused, however, to press charges against himself. Instead, he had the sheriff’s deputy, David Boruchowitz, hauled in on felony false-arrest charges. The deputy, who is also the acting press liaison, dutifully sent out a press release with his mug shot attached before locking himself in the Nye County jail. In the end, De Meo got his man. But by then the pair had effectively derailed the county’s criminal justice system, requiring the state to dispatch a special prosecutor to sort out the mess.

Give me freedom and give me cash
Colombian VP Francisco Santos has bestowed the “world prize for ingratitude” on Ingrid Betancourt. The Colombian politician and famous ex-hostage has withdrawn demands for US$6.8 million in damages for her six-year ordeal, following a firestorm of criticism. “Outrageous,” said Bogotá daily El Tiempo, summing up the mood. Loads of taxpayer money, they note, went to planning and carrying out her elaborate 2008 rescue (the government should sue her, talk shows suggested). Betancourt, who divides her time between Paris and New York, ignored warnings not to take her fledgling presidential campaign to guerrilla turf—and was kidnapped when she did.

Born to run
Caster Semenya’s torment is finally over: the 800-m sprint specialist was cleared to run “with immediate effect” by the International Association of Athletics Federations. Her comeback venue was wisely chosen: remote Lappeenranta, a Finnish city 30 km from the Russian border. There, the teen, whose gender tests were grossly mishandled by sports authorities—IAAF secretary Pierre Weiss, breaching confidentiality, declared she was a woman, “but maybe not 100 per cent”—may return to the track outside the media glare.

Too drunk to vote
The aptly named British rookie MP Mark Reckless was one of many caucus members whiling away the hours in Westminster’s bars for a late-night sitting of Parliament that ran until 2:48 a.m. But Reckless, who has little memory of the night, was worse for wear. The Conservative MP for Rochester, Kent, who had to be helped up after repeated spills, apologized “unreservedly,” saying he skipped the 2:07 a.m. vote on the U.K. budget because it would have been inappropriate. More likely, said colleagues, who bundled him into a taxi and sent him home, it may have been impossible: he was, by then, asleep on the Commons terrace.

Luck apparently be a lady
Dubbed the luckiest winner of all time, Joan Ginther travelled to Austin, Tex., last week to pick up a $10-million jackpot—her fourth multi-million-dollar win. Her run started in 1993, with a $10-million Lotto prize. Between 2006 and 2008, she won $5 million. And she added another $10 million to the pot with a lucky $50 scratch-and-win ticket last week. The 63-year-old Texas native—who’s raked in a total $20 million in lottery winnings—now calls Vegas home, which only seems appro­priate.

Just a few weeks in the hot seat
The honeymoon’s over for new Australian PM Julia Gillard. The former lawyer, who ousted Kevin Rudd in a coup, has backtracked on a plan to send asylum-seekers to neighbouring East Timor. It seemed the Timorese weren’t so fond of that idea; they roundly rejected it. Gillard’s plan—approved by 63 per cent of Aussies—also calls for a crackdown on illegals. The Welsh-born Gillard, a former socialist and activist, is thought to be moving Labour to the vote-rich centre ahead of elections. Plans to revive the case for a carbon tax have been quietly backburnered; finding climate solutions is “complicated,” Gillard announced this week.

Hello, hella
“Hella,” thanks to the efforts of UC Davis student Austin Sendek, might just enter the science lexicon—along the lines of “nano.” The physics major is petitioning for it to be used for the yet nameless, mind-bogglingly large quantity of 10 to the 27th power (or a trillion trillions). The idea, in granola-rich northern California, is catching on: a Facebook petition is nearing 100,000 names. The Consultative Committee on Units, however, might be a harder sell. Odds, it seems, are “hella small”—as even Sendek admits.

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