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Newsmakers

Zimbabwe’s femme fatale, the Mel Gibson non-comeback, and one man’s war against rent that’s too damn high


 

NewsmakersA perfect wedding for one
Chen Wei-yih, a 30-year-old living in Taipei, waited for the right man. But he never came along, so in a triumphant gesture aimed in part at upending clichés about unmarried women, she rented a hall, bought a wedding dress and will marry herself on Nov. 6. The Facebook page for “Only&Only’s Wedding” has won her loads of new friends. And yes, there is a honeymoon: Chen will travel with her new, better half to Australia.

Still Wayne’s world
It would have been the biggest English divorce since Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. Shaken Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson told a press conference that his star attacker, Wayne Rooney, intended to move to a new professional soccer club instead of renewing his contract. Rooney had quarrelled with his boss over an ankle injury, and told Sky Sports he had concerns over “the continued ability of the club to attract the top players in the world.” The fight raised the possibility of Rooney defecting to a Man U rival—perhaps the most despised of all, Manchester City. But after two days of uncertainty, Rooney relented and signed a deal that will keep him in the famous red kit until June 2015.

He said it once. He’ll say it again.
He has no chance of becoming the next governor of New York, but this gubernatorial candidate’s stump speeches have won him Internet fame, a parody on Saturday Night Live and even a toy action figure based on his likeness. Jimmy McMillan heads a political party called The Rent is Too Damn High Party, and in appearances he hammers away at his party’s one and only platform plank: the rent is too damn high. “Our children can’t afford to live anywhere. There’s nowhere to go,” he said during one televised debate. “Once again, why? You said it, the rent is too damned high.” He even won over front-runner Andrew Cuomo, who during the debate admitted: “I’m with Jimmy: the rent is too damn high.”

Granny’s got a gun
A lone hunter from Bishop’s Falls, Nfld., was thrilled after bagging a 15-point bull moose with a single shot after waiting in the bush for hours. Her grandchildren will probably be excited too. Diane Gillingham, 69, became an instant local legend with the feat, but she noted that she has been shooting since she was 11, and that her mother hunted into her ninth decade. The secret of her success? “I can sit and wait for [game] to come out, where a lot of men, they have problems with that. They’re like dogs, they got to keep going.”

One man’s racist . . .
U.S. author and TV pundit Juan Williams was sacked by NPR, the network that dropped the name “National Public Radio” in July, for remarks he made in his moonlight gig as a Fox News commentator. Appearing on The O’Reilly Factor, Williams admitted that when he boards an airplane, “if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.” The ensuing controversy was doubled when NPR CEO Vivian Schiller quipped that Williams should have kept such views between himself “and his psychiatrist”; it was redoubled when Fox handed him a $2-million, three-year contract extension.

NewsmakersThe kindest cut
Scott Hartnell’s luscious locks gave him one of the NHL’s most distinctive looks, but alas, the Lloydminster, Alta., native’s power mane—which even has its own Facebook page—is no more. The chirpy, dirty, Flyers’ fan favourite donated his thick, curly, reddish-brown hair to the charity organization Locks for Love, which provides hairpieces to sick kids. “Hedge clippers, weed whackers and a shovel to pick it all up afterwards,” a clean-cut Hartnell told FlyersTV, when asked what was needed to hack it away. He said it was his first haircut in three years.

The job from hell
She’s either Mexico’s bravest or most naive woman for accepting a job many regard as tantamount to a death sentence. Twenty-year-old criminology student Marisol Valles Garcia is the new police chief of Praxedis G. Guerrero, a township of 8,500 in a violent borderland that has seen more than 7,000 drug-cartel-related killings since 2008. Garcia’s predecessor, Martin Castro, was kidnapped and beheaded in 2009; the position has been vacant since. The married mother of a baby boy heads a force of 13 agents, with one working patrol car, three automatic rifles and a pistol. In an interview, Garcia admitted the job carried “an element of risk” but that she has no doubts: “It’s the right decision.”

NewsmakersOne small step for Slovenia . . .
The Romans believed that names are destiny, and Peter Bossman is living up to his. Ghana-born Bossman, 54, was elected mayor of the picturesque Slovenian city of Piran, winning the post for the centre-left Social Democrats. He is thought to be the first black mayor anywhere in the former Soviet bloc. Bossman, who came to Slovenia as a medical student in 1977, faced few racial difficulties in his campaign. “My victory shows a high level of democracy in Slovenia. I think people no longer see the colour of my skin when they look at me.” One newspaper columnist called Bossman Slovenia’s Barack Obama, but the new mayor is lowering expectations. “I said that I’m flattered by the comparison, but I’m in no way Obama. I’m Peter Bossman, and I’m just running for mayor of a small town.”

Yuan day at a time
At the G20 summit in Seoul, South Korea, the U.S. Treasury Secretary had what might be the toughest diplomatic job around: avoiding an all-out currency war with China. Timothy Geithner has been pushing the country to relax its currency policy—the undervalued yuan, which benefits Chinese exporters, has been a constant source of irritation for America. He won a loose pledge from G20 leaders to avoid currency manipulations, but is still a long way from winning over the one country that matters. Whether or not that’s in the cards will depend on the success of his subsequent trip: from Seoul, Geithner travelled to China for one-on-one talks with Vice Premier Wang Qishan.

NewsmakersThe comeback that wasn’t
Mel Gibson is reportedly enraged again—this time after being fired from The Hangover 2 because the cast and crew protested his presence. “Mad” Mel’s cameo as a Bangkok tattoo artist, a role now being played by Liam Neeson, was Gibson’s first Hollywood job since the scandal arising from the airing of his profanity-filled phone messages to ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva. What apparently has the tempestuous thespian particularly galled is the fact former drug user and convicted rapist Mike Tyson was given a second chance in the first The Hangover. No word yet on whether director Todd Phillips has any voice messages to share.

That’s love for you
Grace Mugabe, the 45-year-old wife of 85-year-old Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, appears as fond of adultery as of profligate spending: it’s how she and her husband of 14 years began their own relationship. Not all of her liaisons since have ended so felicitously: one lover died mysteriously in a car crash, another was exiled. Now news of her five-year affair with Gideon Gono, Zimbabwe’s 50-year-old central bank chief and her husband’s trusted adviser, raises the spectacle to operatic heights—along with questions about whether Gono will survive it. The unfortunate bodyguard present when the dictator was informed of the affair—he was told three months ago by his sister on her deathbed—was later poisoned. And a state official warned that more trouble would follow: “I think someone will go and meet God.”

Them’s fightin’ words
Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat, shocked Italy with televised remarks that the company would be “better off” abandoning the country. Marchionne, who is trying to win concessions on efficiency from labour unions, declared that Fiat’s sole Polish factory accounts for more profit than all five of its Italian ones combined. “Without Italy, Fiat’s performance would be better,” he said. Marchionne, who is also titular CEO of Chrysler, moved to Canada as a teenager and began his corporate career here. His desire to outsource production if he cannot overcome poor Italian competitiveness invited a grievous insult from the speaker of the national Chamber of Deputies, Gianfranco Fini, who declared, “Marchionne has proved to be more Canadian than Italian.”

Here, and gone
Could the Dalai Lama ever be a woman? The current Dalai Lama didn’t rule out the possibility during his three-day whirl through Toronto, noting females are “biologically more sensitive about others’ pain” than males and would be “a lot more attractive” than he is. The 75-year-old spiritual leader also elicited a few guffaws with his comment that peace “will not drop from the sky” without dialogue. And he showed his knack for delivering salient parables, telling a group including former Toronto mayoral candidate Rocco Rossi a story about a diplomat swatting a pesky fly in a limo, according to the Toronto Star. The Tibetan driver stopped, rolled down a window, and shooed the fly out: “Same amount of effort, but the fly is not dead,” the Dalai Lama reportedly said.

NewsmakersIf the ski fits
In a move that is pushing the envelope in the highly conventional ski industry, Lindsey Vonn, the world’s most famous skier, has announced she’ll wear men’s skis this season. Vonn, at five foot ten and 160 lb., is stronger and heavier than most female racers, and can handle the longer, stiffer skis. “It’s harder to turn, of course; it takes more strength,” said the 26-year-old Olympic alpine ski racer. “But I’m able to generate a lot of sped from the turns.”


 

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