Newsmakers

Dennis Rodman’s next trip, Chris Hadfield gets keys to the spaceship, and Russia’s evil dancer heads to court

Newsmakers

Marcos Brindicci/Reuters

When life imitates art

Bolshoi Ballet star Pavel Dmitrichenko, famed for his portrayal of villains on stage, claimed from a Moscow court last week that while he sanctioned an attack on Sergei Filin, the company’s artistic director, he did not expect his hired thug to throw acid in the man’s face. Asked whether he wished to apologize to Filin, Dmitrichenko defiantly replied: “For what?”

They should write a song about it

Taylor Swift often laments her tragic love life, but Swift’s fans are all too happy to shower her with adoration. Now it seems not all of their messages are making it into the pop princess’s hands. A Nashville resident, Kylee Francescan, reportedly found stacks upon stacks of unopened letters addressed to Swift and covered in glitter, photos and stickers behind a school dumpster. When the local news team investigated, Swift’s people said the mail was likely mixed up with another batch of fan mail destined for the recycle depot. With Swift receiving “thousands of fan letters everyday,” it seems her problem may be too much love, not the opposite.

Weather’s great, wish you were—oh, right

Retired Chicago Bulls basketball player Dennis Rodman enjoyed his February “basketball diplomacy” trip to North Korea and his meeting with leader Kim Jong Un so much that he is going back for a summer vacation in August. Rodman made his vacation plan public during an interview with local TV station KXJB in Fargo, N.D. He used the word “amazing” many times to describe his trip, and insisted “my friend” Kim was not a bad guy, and “wants to not fight.” Meanwhile, Kim seemed to have other plans. He said he was cancelling the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953, and while rallying troops massed near the border, Kim reportedly said they should be ready to “wipe out” enemies on nearby Baengnyeong Island, which belongs to South Korea. Rodman may need to rethink that vacation, but he has another destination in mind first: the Vatican. He told gossip site TMZ his “people” hope to arrange a meeting with the new pope so he can “spread the message of peace and love.”

Drive it carefully

Astronaut Chris Hadfield has set plenty of firsts in his career: he was the first Canadian to operate the Canadarm in orbit, and the first Canadian to leave a spacecraft and float freely in space. He’s also the only Canadian ever to visit the Russian space station Mir. This week, Hadfield becomes Canada’s first-ever commander of the International Space Station. “I’ve devoted my whole life to being in a position where, at 53 years old, somebody would say, ‘We want you to command our spaceship,’ ” says Hadfield. Now he finally gets the keys to what he calls “the world’s spaceship.”

Has the Bieb lost his shiz?

Justin Bieber’s very bad week started with what he petulantly tweeted was his “worst birthday” last week; he and his entourage were bounced from a London club. Things went downhill from there. Bieber started a London concert nearly two hours late, leaving many pre-teen fans (and their furious parents) out way past bedtime. At a second London concert, Bieber collapsed on stage after experiencing shortness of breath, but was able to finish the concert before heading to the hospital for observation. He then cancelled one of two shows scheduled for Portugal, possibly due to slow ticket sales. To cap it all off, his ex, Selena Gomez, released a video of herself with friends dancing to Dustin Tavella’s Everybody Knows (Your Boyfriend is a Douchebag). Ouch.

Separate cells, please

Vicky Pryce, 60, a leading British economist, and her estranged husband, former cabinet minister Chris Huhne, 58, both began eight-month sentences this week after twin convictions for perverting the course of justice. Pryce was found guilty of accepting Huhne’s speeding demerits in 2003 so the former Liberal Democrat MP wouldn’t lose his licence. The switcheroo was a family secret until the couple’s 26-year marriage ended in 2010 when Hume’s affair with his 46-year-old bisexual aide, Carina Trimingham, was revealed. Pryce sought revenge by leaking the fact Huhne was the actual speeder. The feuding exes shared the dock at London’s Southwark Crown Court, “avoiding even the slightest eye contact,” the Telegraph reported. Huhne quit politics and pleaded guilty. Pryce fought the charge. Jurors rejected her claim she was coerced by her husband.

Some peasants are more equal

Article 1 of China’s constitution describes “a socialist state” led by “the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants.” Squaring that with the reality of its parliament—with 83 delegates worth more than $1 billion—is a sensitive topic for Xi Jinping, who assumes the presidency next week, and has launched a campaign against extravagance and corruption. The Hurun Global Rich List found 31 billionaires at the National People’s Congress gathering. Another 32 are delegates to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body. The CPPCC’s richest member, with an estimated $32 billion, is Victor Li, who launched the redevelopment of Vancouver’s Expo lands. But soaring above other delegates, at least in height, is retired Houston Rocket Yao Ming. It’s in the best interests of the wealthy to keep a hand in politics, Fang Xingyuan Feng of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Financial Times. “When business people amass a fortune they need to protect it,” he said.

Hugging is for men only

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s embrace of Hugo Chávez’s grieving mother created a storm back home. A photo of the Iranian president hugging Elena Frías de Chávez at the late Venezuelan leader’s funeral was denounced by conservatives in Iran—where it is forbidden for men to touch women. Government officials hilariously claimed that the photo—released by state media in Venezuela, Tehran’s great friend—had been faked. Iran quickly released a gruesomely photoshopped pic, showing Ahmadinejad embracing Chavez’s “uncle” in place of his mother. Oops: the “uncle’s” picture is that of an Egyptian opposition leader who is much taller than Ahmadinejad.

Let’s all hate Vancouver

Crack open a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon, because a reality TV pilot calling itself Real Hipsters of Vancouver is issuing a casting call. Pals Britt Irvin and Jesse Haddock are looking for “hip, fun, attractive people under 40” who identify as hipsters. Hundreds of audition videos have already rolled in, Haddock told the Vancouver Sun this week; early stand-outs include a 24-year-old woman who is employed but lives in a van by choice, and a man who lists his job as “professional partier.” The proposal ignited an online debate as to whether Vancouver’s famed slackers, known for a collective lack of ambition, could actually get it together to submit audition tapes by deadline.

This silence isn’t golden

“The Queen fights for gay rights,” blared the U.K.’s Mail on Sunday this week, reporting the British monarch would sign a “historic pledge” to promote gay rights, following her hospitalization for a stomach bug. The new Commonwealth charter opposes all forms of discrimination, “whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds”—to some, a veiled reference to gay rights. Her critics were unmoved. “Fighting for gay rights? The Queen won’t even mention them,” Patrick Strudwick wrote in the Guardian. “I will not celebrate silence.”

What’s he think of beer goggles?

Google Glass may be the most buzzed-about gadget since the iPad, but anyone lucky enough to get their hands—or face—on a pair better not walk into Dave Meinert’s Seattle bar. “If nothing else,” said Meinert, banning the new specs from his 5 Point Cafe, “we’re saving you from looking like a complete idiot in public.” Part of his message was in jest, he said later, but added there are real privacy concerns behind the ban, too.

Making a bad thing worse

Matt Lauer is still doing damage control over his worst year on NBC’s Today show—which has seen its ratings sink below ABC’s Good Morning America. The host sat down with journalist Howard Kurtz this week, admitting Today has been “a little dour and depressing and dark” since it forced out his popular co-host Ann Curry; though he opposed the move, viewers blamed him for making Curry cry on the air, and one woman stopped him at the London Olympics to tell him, “I hate what you’ve done. I will never watch you again.” Curry is lucky to have viewers stand up for her; another daytime host, Elisabeth Hasselbeck of The View, has recently found herself so unpopular with the audience that rumours last week had her being replaced with Brooke Shields.




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