Newsmakers

Arnold Schwarzenegger has advice for Russia, Naomi Campbell’s unwitting good deed, and Kim Jong Il’s other son

The prince gets down
Prince Charles, donning a red bindi, charmed locals with a charmingly poor dancing form while visiting the northern Indian city of Jodhpur during India’s Commonwealth Games. After some cajoling, he began to follow the movements of the elderly farmers, and began to smile as he twirled about.

And long may you run
Omemee, Ont., a wide spot on the highway between Lindsay and Peterborough, is the early childhood home of rock icon Neil Young. It’s also the site of Youngtown, a museum packed to the rafters with rock memorabilia of every sort, and a tribute to the Young family, including Neil’s late father, storied sportswriter and author Scott Young. Last week Neil and his older brother, Bob, visited the museum for the first time since it opened in 2008. “The hour-long visit was simply an awesome experience for this writer,” museum founder and collector in chief, Trevor Hosier, wrote on Youngtown’s Facebook page, “and I’m glad to report that we passed the audition.”

To Russia with love
Arnold Schwarzenegger visited Russia this week, where he met with President Dmitry Medvedev to offer sage advice on modernizing the nation and developing its economy. “We want to do what we can as Californians and as Americans because it is in our interest to make Russia successful,” he said. But perhaps someone should remind “the Gubernator” his own state is hardly the shining example of success. This week, it sold 11 buildings to rein in its deficit. Meanwhile, Russia’s model of machismo, Vladimir Putin, prepares to turn 58, and a group of female journalism students posed in lingerie to fete him—each with a gushing message. “How about a third time?” asks one. A second group mobilized a counter attack. Its calendar features women in black, mouths taped shut. “Who killed Anna Politkovskaya?” reads one caption.

The pot runneth over
Tea Party-backed Republican candidates continued to self-destruct last week. First New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino spoke about the prospect of kids being “brainwashed” into seeing same-sex relationships as valid. Then came photos of Rich Iott, nominee for Ohio’s 9th District, playing Nazi dress-up. Iott admitted his involvement with a group dedicated to German military history in the Second World War, but said he just likes re-enactments. Meanwhile, Delaware Senate hopeful Christine O’Donnell was mocked on Saturday Night Live for her new ad. O’Donnell was forced to distance herself from witchcraft after clips of her admitting to having “dabbled” in the dark arts hit the news. “Isn’t that what the people of Delaware deserve?” Kristen Wiig asks in the SNL spoof. “A candidate who promises first and foremost that she’s not a witch?”

Feet, don’t fail me now
In a performance that moved one judge to tears, 23-year-old pianist and singer Liu Wei won the TV show China’s Got Talent with a poignant version of the James Blunt hit You’re Beautiful, played with his feet. Wei had both arms amputated at age 10 after touching a live wire during a game of hide-and-seek. At 18 he returned to his dream of a musical career, using his feet with the same dexterity that allows him to feed himself and brush his teeth. “At least I have a pair of perfect legs,” he joked after his win before a packed house at Shanghai Stadium.

Big Brother is sharing
Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddard is concerned federal departments may be distributing personal information about their critics, she told Ottawa’s Hill Times. Her fears are based on news that Veterans Affairs staff improperly disclosed the medical file of Sean Bruyea, an outspoken Gulf War veteran who advocates for better treatment for wounded soldiers. His details found their way to Veteran Affairs Minister Greg Thompson and Stephen Harper’s riding office. Stoddard hopes the resulting scandal will stop further abuses. Bruyea isn’t so sure. “If it happens in this department, how many other departments has it happened with?” he asked.

Art shocker
The Kober family of Buffalo, N.Y., had an inkling the old painting wrapped in brown paper and tucked behind their couch for 27 years might be special. But it wasn’t until Martin Kober retired and did some research that they realized the unfinished portrait of Jesus and Mary they’d dubbed “the Mike” might be a Michelangelo, just as family lore had it. “I had assumed it was going to be a copy,” Renaissance art restorer Antonio Forcellino told the New York Post. His doubts faded as soon as he laid eyes on it. “I was so struck by the strength of it that I felt breathless,” he said. X-ray scanning, he says, confirms its authenticity. If the painting—believed to have wound up in Buffalo via the family’s German roots—is a Michelangelo, it could fetch as much as $300 million, and be the art find of the century.

And not funny ha-ha
In an interview with CNN host Larry King, Afghan President Hamid Karzai denied claims that he suffers from manic depression, and is on anti-anxiety meds. The claims, first made by Bob Woodward in his new book, Obama’s Wars, were “rather funny,” he said. Karzai, who has blamed “foreigners” for the country’s legendary election irregularities, recently burst into tears in a speech in which he contemplated having to send his son Mirwais overseas to school because of the war, fuelling speculation about his emotional state. Mirwais is three.

Not so friendly fire
A probe has been called into the death of kidnapped aid worker Linda Norgrove. The 36-year-old Scot was killed Friday after U.S. special forces stormed the mountain hut where she had been held for two weeks. A Taliban bomb was originally blamed. But new video evidence suggests she was killed by an American grenade. President Barack Obama has pledged to “get to the bottom” of what happened during the raid, which also killed her six captors. But British media are already second-guessing the effort, musing if Norgrove was the victim of a “trigger-happy” mentality, and would still be alive had U.K. troops conducted the operation.

But who can resist forwarding a good thesis?
Duke University grad Karen Owen ended her undergrad career with a bang. She created a mock thesis, a 42-page PowerPoint presentation entitled “An Education Beyond the Classroom: Excelling in the Realm of Horizontal Academics.” In it she analyzed her sexual romps with 13 male Duke students, complete with photos, graphs and a measure of their “assets.” A sample: “It was on the cab ride back that I discovered he was rude, Canadian and spoke mostly in French . . . Yet in the interest of my research and out of a perverse curiosity I decided to continue toward his [apartment].” Owen said she emailed it to friends, never thinking it would go viral.

A big fatwa doorstopper
Salman Rushdie is 100 pages into a memoir recounting his decade in hiding. Rushdie spent 10 years under protection of Scotland Yard after Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini ordered Muslims to kill him and anyone involved in publishing his novel The Satanic Verses. Hitoshi Igarashi, his Japanese translator, was stabbed to death; an Italian translator, Ettore Capriole, was knifed and beaten; and William Nygaard, his Norwegian publisher, was shot. In 1998, Iran rescinded the fatwa. Rushdie has never shied away from speaking about the experience, but only recently felt ready to tackle it on the page. “I’m not getting churned up and upset,” he said. “I’m just writing it and I’m feeling quite pleased to be writing it.”

Good way to get karma points
She doesn’t appear to know about it, but a $100,000 leather portrait of supermodel Naomi Campbell is being sold at London’s Scream Gallery, ironically enough to raise money for the anti-blood-diamonds charity Global Witness. The portrait of Campbell—infamous recipient of Liberian president Charles Taylor’s “dirty stones”—was created by accomplished artist Mark Evans.

Back to the future
A patient with a spinal cord injury was injected Friday with a therapy derived from human stem cells in an Atlanta hospital—a dream some 10 years in the making for Canadian-born neuroscientist Hans Keirstead, 43. The treatment, which aims to restore mobility to recently paralyzed people, was developed by a team led by Keirstead, formerly of UBC. A former Maclean’s Honour Roll recipient, he licensed it to biotech giant Geron Corp., which spent millions winning approval for this first human trial. An atypical geek, Keirstead rides a motorcycle and flies a helicopter. He told the L.A. Times he’ll be “waiting with bated breath every day” of the trial.

Where he’s probably happier
The eldest of North Korea’s Kims spoke out against Kim Jong Un’s promotion to head Pyongyang. “I am opposed to the hereditary transfer to a third generation of the family,” Kim Jong Nam told Japan’s Asahi TV shortly before his brother appeared at Workers’ Party celebrations Sunday. “I wasn’t interested in it and I don’t care,” he said, when asked about the succession plan. Jong Nam, 39, was long considered his father’s natural successor and in the ’90s was made a general. All that came crashing to a halt when, in 2001, he was nabbed trying to sneak into Japan on a fake Dominican passport to visit Tokyo Disneyland. He lives in the Chinese gambling haven of Macau with his wife and two children.

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