Newsmakers of the week

Glenn Beck’s new shill, a star turn for a senator’s spouse, and an MP stands up for shark fin soup

Red Bull Content Pool/Rex Features

Time to move on

Canadian soccer star Christine Sinclair has “no regrets” about venting to Norwegian referee Christiana Pedersen about two dubious calls she made during the Olympic team’s controversial loss to the U.S.A. this August. “I don’t regret what I said,” Sinclair said in her first comments since being slapped with a four-game suspension and fined $3,500 by FIFA for “unsporting behaviour.” We may never know what Sinclair told the ref, but she backed down on suggestions that Pedersen wanted a U.S. victory: “No, I don’t ultimately believe she went into the match hoping the U.S. would win.” It was a face-saver for both sides. FIFA defended itself against match-fixing allegations, and Sinclair stood up for her team against two lousy penalties. Soccer Canada will pay her fine, and the suspensions will be in meaningless friendly games.

Butterfly effect

There may be truth to the theory that the flap of a butterfly’s wings can eventually generate a hurricane. British artist Damien Hirst is weathering a storm after news that 9,000 butterflies died during a summer-long retrospective of his work at the Tate Modern gallery in London. The free-flying insects, an installation he called In and Out of Love, were part of a retrospective including his famous dead pickled shark and other iconic works. Some butterflies were killed when visitors stepped on them or brushed them off their clothing, but most lived out their life cycle in the gallery, a Tate spokesman said. Hirst said a butterfly expert was hired “at considerable cost” to ensure conditions were perfect. Many enjoyed longer lives than in the wild, he said, “due to the high quality of the environment and food provided.” The flap didn’t stop almost 500,000 visitors from touring the exhibit—among the Tate’s most popular ever.

A giant leap for mankind

On Oct. 14, Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner stood perched on a tiny shelf the size of a skateboard, fixed to a capsule he’d ridden to the edge of space. Then he jumped. Baumgartner plunged over 39 km—more than three times the cruising height of a jetliner—reaching a maximum speed of 1,342 km/h and landing safely with a parachute in the New Mexico desert. Sponsored by Red Bull, Baumgartner’s mission was more than a publicity stunt; it was a testament to how the human body can cope with the extreme conditions of space, and made him the first human ever to break the sound barrier in a skydive (one of several records broken that day). But Baumgartner wasn’t thinking about that as he jumped. Before stepping off his perch, he radioed to mission control: “I’m coming home.”

Z-Rod

With his outsized salary, me-first attitude and admitted steroid use, New York Yankees third-baseman and three-time league MVP Alex Rodriguez has never been an easy guy to like. But his popularity is now plunging to unheard-of lows after his bat fell silent in the post-season, which resulted in him being demoted in the line-up and benched. A-Rod’s meltdown came as the sporting world watched another implosion of a former star: seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, whose career is now officially in tatters after details about the official investigation into his team’s massive doping scheme became public.

Tea Party denim

Conservative talk radio host Glenn Beck has apparently identified an underserved fashion market in America: libertarian hipster dads. This week he became the latest celebrity to roll out his own line of selvage jeans under the label 1791 Supply & Co. (named for the year the Bill of Rights was added to the U.S. Constitution). After berating Levi’s for outsourcing manufacturing overseas, Beck is promising $129 pants in “straight” and “classic” cuts (no youthful skinny jeans here) that are “100 per cent made in the U.S.A.” The pitch comes complete with a bizarre, Americana-laden commercial showing a bearded man wielding a hobby rocket, lighting its fuse, and then running away full tilt. Perhaps because he suspects it’s a dud?

A Google homage

Google’s homepage art on Oct. 15 may have single-handedly revived the reputation of Winsor McCay, creator of the 1905 fantasy comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland. Gerald Lynch of Tech Digest was so impressed by the animated recreation of McCay’s style, where Little Nemo falls into “Google Land” and has surreal adventures, that he pronounced it “the best Google Doodle ever” despite never having heard of the strip before. McCay-mania spread so far on the Internet that the National Post published an article on the controversy over whether or not he was born while his mother was visiting Canada. You know someone’s famous again when Canadians want to take credit for him.

A bowlful of controversy

At Jade Restaurant in Richmond, B.C., Conservative MP Alice Wong recently enjoyed a controversial meal: a bowl of shark fin soup. The dish is banned in Toronto and North Vancouver, while other communities—including Richmond—are considering following suit. Several shark species are endangered, and the techniques used to fish them are notorious; but Wong, who reportedly only invited Chinese media to witness her meal, insists municipalities should butt out and let Ottawa decide whether to enact a ban. Restaurant owner David Chung went further, calling a ban “culturally insensitive.”

Back on the market

The standards by which we, as a society, judge the possibility of monogamy—that is, the marriages of Hollywood stars—continue to crumble. First, after 30 years together, Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman decided they were no longer interested in mutually diminutive matrimony. According to Radaronline, DeVito’s flirtatious ways were to blame and now the short, bald 67-year-old is “embracing the single life” (step one: shopping around for a new sports car). Meanwhile, Hollywood hunk and celebrated phone-thrower Russell Crowe is back on the market after nine years of marriage to Danielle Spencer. Her partner on the Australian version of Dancing With The Stars is rumoured to be the problem. DeVito will no doubt be calling Crowe soon in the hopes of procuring a wing man.

Infamous

A few weeks removed from pleading guilty to a mid-air disturbance, Maygan Sensenberger took to the runway in Ottawa as a model citizen, or at least a model. The 23-year-old wife of 69-year-old Sen. Rod Zimmer took her turn on the catwalk as part of Ottawa Fashion Week, modelling the work of Canadian designer Gwen Madiba. “She may be shorter than all the other models, but she’s beautiful and glowing,” Zimmer told the Ottawa Citizen. Sensenberger, who was sentenced to probation after her mid-flight squabble with Zimmer became a minor media sensation, is also apparently taking acting lessons and, according to Zimmer, is up for a role in an upcoming movie to be filmed in Ottawa.

It’s a checkpoint there, Charlie

Mauritania is a dangerous place, even if you’re the president. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz was shot by one of his own soldiers at a military checkpoint. The shooting immediately set off alarm bells in the strife-torn country, whose most recent military coup brought Aziz to power. But the recovering leader announced from his hospital that his injuries weren’t due to terrorism or another coup, but rather, mistaken identity: he was driving home alone after a relaxing weekend trip, and didn’t bother to stop at the checkpoint even after warning shots were fired. Mauritanians can rest easy knowing the only danger they face is from their own trigger-happy soldiers.

Air Canada to the rescue

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were named hosts of the 70th annual Golden Globe awards this week. The announcement that the 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation stars will team up has fans anticipating all kinds of funny for the Jan. 13 show, particularly after Fey was skipped over as an Academy Awards host in favour of comedian Seth MacFarlane. The duo replace the merciless Ricky Gervais, who hosted the Golden Globes for the past three years—and made the once marginal awards show a must-watch event. The Golden Globe gig won’t be the first time Fey and Poehler have teamed up, and fans are hoping their hosting duties might resemble something like their Saturday Night Live classic, with Fey as Sarah Palin and Poehler as Katie Couric.

We are all Malala

The entire world, it seems, is praying for Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old gunned down by the Taliban for speaking out against them, and promoting education for girls. She was flown to Britain this week, where doctors say she is making good progress.

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