Newsmakers

The unsinkable Jan Brewer, the smoking toddler kicks the habit, Pamela Anderson and you

News flash: Carla has a past!
To the surprise of, well, no one, a tell-all book is set for release on the colourful life that model and singer Carla Bruni embraced before settling down as the third wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. It’s the tale of “a fast-living adventuress with an obsession with wealth and fame,” a source at Paris publisher Flammarion told the Telegraph. The source promises “explosive revelations” about secret lovers and plastic surgery, and the paper suggests the first couple tremble in anticipation of what author Besma Lahouri has uncovered. Well, maybe. Meanwhile, Bruni’s support for Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the Iranian woman whose sentence to death by stoning may be upgraded to hanging, won criticism from an Iranian newspaper—and Catherine Deneuve, who called it “counterproductive,” given her past.

A songbird prepares the nest
Céline Dion has been out of the spotlight since announcing she and husband René Angélil were expecting twin boys this November after years of fertility treatments. This led to tabloid rumours the pregnancy was in trouble and that she’d been rushed to hospital. In fact, 42-year-old Dion has gained 33 lb. and credits acupuncture for a smooth pregnancy, a representative told People. She’ll take it easy for the last trimester, on doctor’s orders, before launching a show next year at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The cover of Montreal-based 7 Jours magazine features Dion, uncharacteristically scrubbed free of makeup, clutching her hefty baby bump along with hubby, the family dog and their soon-to-be outnumbered nine-year-old son René-Charles.

He dodged death. The Dodge didn’t.
Thomas Magill’s anguished decision to end it all by jumping from the 38th floor of a New York City apartment proved fatal, but only to a red Dodge Charger that broke his fall. The 22-year-old is recovering after having rods inserted into his legs and undergoing several operations, after slamming feet-first through the rear windshield and onto the back seat. Construction worker Guy McCormack, who borrowed his wife’s beloved car that day, credits its rosary beads with playing a role in Magill’s survival. His wife, Maria McCormack, has a less spiritual view. “I want to meet [him] and say, Why? Why my car out of all the cars in the city?”

World’s youngest quitter
To the relief of thousands of Internet viewers and an embarrassed Indonesian government, two-year-old Ardi Rizal has reportedly shaken his cigarette addiction. Ardi, known the world over as the “Smoking Baby,” left his village in South Sumatra in July for help with his two-pack-a-day habit. “He received psychosocial therapy for one month during which therapists kept him busy with activities,” says Arist Mer­deka Sirait, secretary general for child protection. “We di­verted his addiction from cigarettes to playing.”

Putting the hack in hacking
The fallout from Fleet Street’s phone-hacking scandal continues, years after the first police raid in 2003 uncovered a private investigator’s scheme to pinch confidential cellphone data and voice mail from royalty and the rich and famous. The information proved embarrassing fodder for the tabloid press, especially the Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World. In all, hundreds of journalists paid investigators to pry secrets from thousands of phones. Among those jailed was Clive Goodman, the former royal editor for the World. With trials and inquiries now over, the Guardian and the New York Times asked last week why Scotland Yard only prosecuted those hacking phones of the royal family, and why those employed by the well-connected Murdoch got off so lightly. Among the unscathed is Andy Coulson, the World’s former editor, now director of communications for Prime Minister David Cameron. Coulson, who says he was “unaware” of the hacking, is under fire from Labour MPs.

So clean I can see my toes!
Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly waited for warm weather and a clean bill from the health department, but did plunge into Halifax Harbour last week. The swim off Black Rock Beach fulfilled a promise to show the harbour is safe after the city’s long-awaited $54-million sewage treatment plant malfunctioned last year, fouling the water and setting back a $333-million cleanup. “The system is working, the water is clean,” said Kelly. The mayor sported a farmer’s tan and yellow-and-black plaid swim shorts, setting standards for political integrity, if not fashion.

Making bankers look even worse
Thilo Sarrazin’s views on Muslims and Jews may cost him his job on the board of the Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank, but they’ve already propelled his new book, Germany Is Destroying Itself, onto the bestseller list. Germany is being undermined by the unwillingness and inability of its four million Muslims to integrate, he says. He also believes in a “Jewish gene.” His views are condemned by most politicians except the far-right National Democratic Party, but getting rid of him may prove to be difficult, given the legal protections extended to bankers in that country.

Your life goes here
In a mix of art and geekery, Canadian rockers Arcade Fire have reinvented the music video. American director Chris Milk used the horsepower of Google Maps and Street View to create a personal experience for online viewers. Type in your childhood home address and you’ll find your memories melding with Win Butler’s as he sings We Used to Wait, an ode to the lost art of letter-writing, from their hit CD The Suburbs. Their combo of technology and nostalgia, found at thewildernessdowntown.com, has gone viral. As part of the experience, you’re asked to write “a letter of advice to the younger you.” If only you’d known to invest in Google.

Quite the operator
Canadian thespian Pamela Anderson has crawled into bed with cellphone giant Nokia, and you can, too. A lingerie-clad Anderson is promoting the N8, Nokia’s HD video phone. The contest offers one lucky lad a chance to star with her in a short film to be shot in London on Sept. 20. “I don’t want to give too much away,” trills Anderson, “but my scenes are shot in a bedroom.” For women, there’s an equally iffy reward: an elevator scene with Gossip Girls hunk Ed Westwick.

In over her head
In the wake of a notorious debate meltdown, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer recanted a statement that Arizonans were being found beheaded in the desert near the Mexican border. (She “misspoke.”) As for her mangled debate opener—which included a nine-second pause, and an ill-timed giggle—she conceded it was “not her finest hour.” Pundits were less forgiving. Slate’s Dave Wiegel called it “meltdown-a-riffic,” Talking Points Memo a “trainwreck.” None of it is expected to affect the election result. The Republican incumbent, a folk hero on the right for her draconian immigration law, leads Democrat Terry Goddard, 57 to 38 per cent.

Definitely not Jerry’s kids
Jerry Lewis is hopping mad at young, troubled celebutantes who take their charmed lives for granted. “I’d smack her in the mouth,” he said when asked what he’d do if he ran into a freshly rehabbed Lindsay Lohan. “I would smack her in the mouth and be arrested for abusing a woman!” Paris Hilton, charged for cocaine possession in Las Vegas last week, is no better. “What these children are saying,” he says, “is I’m f—ked up, please help me.”

Over the moon
To astronaut Chris Hadfield, his selection to command the International Space Station is a coup for us all. “To be trusted with their lives and with that entire station on behalf of all the world’s space-faring nations, most specifically on behalf of Canada, is a tremendous honour,” said the 51-year-old former jet pilot, a native of Sarnia, Ont. And he’s not worried about getting lonely in his six-month stay, slated to begin in December 2012. “There are people who live in downtown Toronto who feel pretty isolated.” What matters is the right “attitude.”

Not a moment too Sa-Soon
South Korea’s Cha Sa-soon is either the world’s worst driver, or its most indomitable spirit. The 69-year-old, known across South Korea as “Grandma Cha Sa-soon,” finally passed her driver’s test on her 960th try. “It felt like a huge bur­den falling off our back,” driving instructor Park Su-yeon told the New York Times. “We didn’t have the guts to tell her to quit.” At one point, Cha, who wanted the licence so she can take her grandkids to the zoo, was taking the test five times a week. She’s starring in a new commercial for Hyundai, and the company has given her a car.

A chorus of boos
A school principal has unleashed a storm for dropping the word “gay” from the Aussi campfire classic, Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree. When Garry Martin told students at Melbourne’s Lepage Primary to sub the word “fun” in the chorus, “Laugh, kookaburra, gay your life must be,” he said he wasn’t insulting gay people, he was trying to cut the giggles. “Some think I’m the devil incarnate,” he told a local radio station, after being bombarded by angry emails.

Manly, in his own way
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev tucked into a watermelon as he toured a collective farm in Grachinoe, Russia, last week. Meantime, his macho predecessor Vladimir Putin, famously photographed fighting fires, riding horses or shooting whales, hinted he may take another run at the presidency in 2012.

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