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Newsmakers: Feb. 10-16, 2011

Jeremy Lin’s Cinderella start, Prince Harry takes flight, and Carla Bruni is immortalized in bronze


 
Newsmakers

Danny Martindale/WireImage

Book brawl

CBC Radio’s often tedious Canada Reads competition came alive last week with allegations of lying, bullying and even terrorism. The addition of rabble-rousing Montreal family lawyer Anne-France Goldwater sparked much of the fire. First, Goldwater, known as “Quebec’s Judge Judy” for her role on L’Arbitre—a made-in-Quebec version of the hammed-up TV justice show—attacked Something Fierce, which chronicles Carmen Aguirre’s youth spent underground among South American revolutionaries. “Aguirre is a bloody terrorist,” she spat. “How we let her into Canada, I don’t understand.” Goldwater, 51, who has credited her “balls” and “extreme not-ladylike-ness” for her success, went on to claim that Marina Nemat made up large sections of Prisoner of Tehran, which recalls her imprisonment in Iran’s notorious Evin prison; Nemat subsequently took a tearful call from the Dragons’ Den’s Arlene Dickinson, who’d been defending it on the Survivor-styled contest, which votes off one book per episode. No real harm done, however. Nemat saw book sales spike, Aguirre walked off with the title prize, and the show got more headlines and interest than it has in years.

The Linsanity continues

It’s been all of a week since New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin made his NBA debut, but after five transcendent games, it’s safe to say Lin is here to stay. The 23-year-old is suddenly the talk of the sports world, scoring a record 89 points in his first three starts, including a career-high 38 points against L.A.—all while living on his brother’s couch. The undrafted Harvard grad, a rare Asian-American basketball star, had been toiling away in basketball’s D-League; he only got the call-up because the Knicks bench was depleted by a string of injuries and the death of Amar’e Stoudemire’s troubled older brother—a narrative that has been dubbed “Lincredible,” “Linconceivable,” and “unbeLinable” by New York’s excitable tabloids. A Bible verse favoured by the devout Christian also seems apropos: “Suffering produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us.”

Ruffled feathers

Taxpayers in the Parisian suburb of Nogent-sur-Marne were furious to learn last week that they’ll be footing part of the bill for a bronze statue of Carla Bruni. The $105,000 likeness of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s wife was the brainchild of Mayor Jacques Martin, a member of Sarkozy’s ruling right-of-centre UMP party. Martin wanted to honour the mostly Italian immigrant women who used to work at a local feather factory. The socialist opposition’s William Geib called the idea of using the Italian heiress and pop star “grotesque.” “It is an insult to poor Italian feather-pluckers to give them the face of this super-rich woman.”

Finally!

Though hardly an offensive dynamo, Scott Gomez had still scored 167 goals through 10½ NHL seasons, including 33 in 2005-2006. But after notching a game-winning goal on Feb. 5, 2011, Gomez embarked on an epic slump. Not until last Thursday, 369 days later, did the untradeable Montreal Canadiens centre—who earns $7.5 million a season—manage to pick up number 168, scoring on the power play against the basement-dwelling New York Islanders. The goal came the same day the archdiocese of Montreal placed an ad in city newspapers calling on Habs fans to pray for their lowly team’s playoff chances. Alas, while Gomez now has reason to give thanks, the Canadiens remain well back of a playoff spot. Harry Potter’s dark side Harry Potter is all grown up. Or, rather, Daniel Radcliffe seems determined to prove he’s not a child anymore. In an interview with Heat magazine, Radcliffe claims he drank so heavily while filming the popular series he sometimes showed up for work still drunk. “I can point to many scenes where I’m just gone,” he says. “Dead behind the eyes.” In the same interview, Radcliffe outlined his philosophy on groupies and one-night stands. “I like to like somebody before I sleep with them, I really do. You know you’re going to have to talk to them afterwards, even if it is a one-night stand,” he explained.

Prince Harry rides again

While most armies are planning their exit from the country, Prince Harry says he is ready to return to Afghanistan. After serving as an infantry soldier in 2008, he has qualified as a front-line Apache attack helicopter pilot and will embark on a four-month tour of duty once he has completed final training. “I would never want to put someone else’s life in danger when they have to sit next to the bullet magnet,” he said of the risks (indeed, the Taliban is promising to use “all our power” to kill the prince). “But if I’m wanted, if I’m needed, then I will serve my country as I signed up to do.” All of which might make for a good movie someday—perhaps a sequel to the film now planned about Princess Di. Caught in Flight, a portrait of Diana’s last two years and her affair with Hasnat Khan, is set to star Australian actress Naomi Watts in the lead role.

Steve Jobs: human

The FBI has released its file on Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and it is difficult to say which of the revelations is most embarrassing. A background check performed in 1991 for a government appointment found allegations Jobs would “twist the truth and distort reality in order to achieve his goals.” He also apparently experimented with marijuana and LSD in college. But most scandalous of all is this: in high school, Jobs carried a mediocre 2.65 GPA. Despite it all, Jobs still served for three years under George H. W. Bush on the President’s Export Council.

The House goes gaga

Skander-Jack Kochlef was ejected from the House of Commons last week—but not for any sort of unparliamentary language. Indeed, at just three months old, young Skander-Jack is too young to say anything at all. In this case, his mother, NDP MP Sana Hassainia, had taken her son (named for late NDP leader Jack Layton) to the House so she could attend to a vote. Other MPs took note of the baby and apparently crowded around Hassainia to take pictures. Speaker Andrew Scheer dispatched a page to settle the MPs so the vote could proceed, but the page informed Hassainia that the baby had to go. (Hassainia duly handed her baby off to the page.) The next day, the apparent miscommunication was cleared up and the rules clarified: MPs, as they have in the past, are allowed to bring their babies into the House of Commons.

The shadow war

Israel and its arch-enemy Iran took yet another step toward war last week after Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Tehran—whom the Israeli prime minister called the world’s “largest terror exporter”—for a pair of coordinated attacks on Israeli embassies in the capitals of India and Georgia. In New Delhi, a hit man on a motorcycle stuck a magnetic bomb to an embassy car, injuring Tal Yehoshua-Koren, the wife of the Israeli defence attaché to India; she and her driver were pulled from the car’s flaming wreckage, while a similar device was found on an embassy car in Tbilisi. Ramin Mehmanparast, an Iranian spokesperson, meanwhile, accused Israel of having bombed its own “to tarnish Iran’s friendly ties with the host countries.”

Judging the judge

A Spanish judge who used his power and platform to pursue human rights abuses around the world has been found to have gone too far. Spain’s supreme court ruled that Baltasar Garzón had illegally wiretapped conversations between lawyers and jailed clients in a probe of alleged corruption involving the country’s Popular Party. Garzón famously tried to extradite Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and once issued an indictment against Osama bin Laden. Supporters say the charges in the case, plus two other trials, are politically motivated. The judges, however, found Garzón had participated in practices that “are only found in totalitarian regimes.”

For your eyes only

Two ministers in the Indian state of Karnataka have resigned after being accused of looking at porn while seated in the legislature. A third minister, the owner of the cellphone on which the pair were watching the clip, has also resigned. The incident was caught on camera by news crews, but the ministers involved profess innocence, saying the clip was of a “rave party,” part of preparations for a debate on the issue. Four years ago, NDP MP Irene Mathyssen accused James Moore, now the minister of heritage, of looking at inappropriate pictures of a woman on his laptop. The images turned out to be of Moore’s girlfriend, and Mathyssen was forced to apologize for jumping to conclusions.

Toothless Tiger fails again

Gone is the swagger, the accuracy, the star who could play through even a broken leg at the ’08 U.S. Open. “What’s frustrating is I had a chance [to win],” Tiger Woods told reporters after failing in yet another attempt to end a 30-month PGA Tour drought at Pebble Beach, Calif.


 
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