Newsmakers: Mar. 1-8, 2012 -

Newsmakers: Mar. 1-8, 2012

Céline Dion takes a voice break, the Clintons’ pipeline wars, and Iceland’s former PM goes to trial


David Tulis/Reuters

Weekly dividends

Businessman Ted Turner believes in diversification—financial and romantic. The 73-year-old CNN founder told the Hollywood Reporter he keeps four girlfriends in rotation—and that spending a week a month with each of them “is pretty much a general rule.” The billionaire, who also herds bison, has been officially single since divorcing Jane Fonda in 2001. As for the lucky ladies in rotation, Turner revealed the identity of only one: the novelist Elizabeth Dewberry. When asked if the other three are happy sharing, Turner gallantly replied: “Sort of.”

Model fesses up

British supermodel Agyness Deyn, whose stated age of 23 is already ancient in modelling years, admitted she’s actually a hoary 29. The former face of Burberry and Armani confessed she shaved off six years after signing her first big contract at 24: “When I decided I would really do modelling I was, like, 18, and I think at the time that was quite old for a new face, so we knocked off a few years,” she told Britain’s Guardian. Deyn, formerly Laura Hollins, has been dogged by accusations of fudging her age by Facebook group “Agyness Deyn You’re Not 18.” Now aspiring to be a theatre actress, the extra years add gravitas, Deyn says.“I’m 29; I feel like that’s the age when you start to think about life. What is this all about? Who am I?”

PM in the dock

Iceland’s former PM became the world’s only politician to face a criminal trial in connection with the global financial crisis, last week. Geir Haarde, who was ousted in 2009 amid uproar over the crisis, is accused of negligence. Haarde, in an interview, insists he “saved the country from going bankrupt,” and claims the trial is a “political farce motivated by enemies.” In 2008, Iceland’s top three banks collapsed after years of rapid, debt-fuelled expansion. The country, with a population the size of Victoria’s, was forced to borrow $10 billion, and is toying with the idea of ditching the plunging krona in favour of Canada’s loonie.

The heart will not go on

The hardest-working woman on the Vegas strip, Céline Dion, has cancelled all shows until June due to a virus that’s inflaming her vocal chords. The Canadian chanteuse, who began a three-year engagement a year ago after giving birth to twins, was told by doctors to rest her pipes for six to eight weeks. “I tried to sing at my sound check last week, and I had no control of my voice whatsoever,” Dion told fans on her website, adding, “Obviously this is the worst thing for a singer . . . I feel worse knowing I’m disappointing my fans. I’m so sorry . . . I hope they forgive me.” Ne t’inquiète pas, Céline—of course they do.

Lindsay’s SNL probation

Delinquent starlet Lindsay Lohan, whose most notable appearances lately have been in courtrooms and rehab, received mixed reviews for her comeback bid hosting Saturday Night Live, during which she milked laughs mocking her felon past. Still, a nice symmetry underlies the 25-year-old’s appearance; she first struck it big in the Lorne Michaels-produced film Mean Girls in 2004. The SNL honcho was the first to give the tabloid princess another chance—and boost his show’s fading ratings in the process.

Harry bolts past Usain

Prince Harry blew past a laughing Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man, after a false start on a Kingston track last week. The cheeky prince was in the Caribbean honouring the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. He greeted Jamaica’s new PM, Portia Simpson Miller, with a hug and kiss on both cheeks, shortly after she repeated her position that Jamaica should sever ties with the British monarchy.

Keystone Cop

In a clear political portent, Bill Clinton threw his support behind TransCanada’s controversial Keystone XL pipeline—the long-delayed project whose ultimate fate is in the hands of his wife. Speaking at a Department of Energy conference for clean-technology start-ups, the former U.S. president also suggested the Calgary-based company botched its initial application by proposing a route that cut directly through the Nebraska’s fragile Sand Hills region and the vast Ogallala Aquifer. Later asked about her husbands’s comments, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton drew laughter when she said he is “a very smart man,” but “unfortunately” the decision is not his to make.

President quits job, robs bank

Former Mount Royal University student association president Meghan Darcy Melnyk was arrested last week for holding up a Calgary credit union. It isn’t the 27-year-old communications-public policy major’s first brush with the law: Melnyk, who resigned in January, had outstanding warrants for fraud, uttering forged documents and breach of probation. Her political rivals clearly didn’t dig deeply: she was sentenced to probation for possession of a stolen SUV in 2008, and in 2010 pleaded guilty to falsely applying for social insurance numbers. The kicker? Until 2010, she worked at the Calgary Police Interpretive Centre, which educates youth about crime and its consequences.

Forever knuckleheads

Ever wonder if those chatty guys on sports show panels secretly loathe each other? Well, the veil of bonhomie fell away last week during an NHL broadcast on NBC, as Mike Milbury nearly came to blows with Jeremy Roenick during an intermission show. Milbury, a former player and general manager, was decrying a hit that concussed Pittsburgh defenceman Kris Letang, while Roenick, another retired player, said Milbury was “going soft,” and offered to buy him a Shirley Temple. The argument devolved into a nose-to-nose chirp-fest, with both men clenching fists. Host Bill Patrick intervened just as Milbury gave Roenick a withering send-off: “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

Canada’s golden girl

Guelph’s Erin Mielzynski captured “a little slice of heaven” last week, when she shattered a 41-year drought for Canadian women in World Cup slalom. “It was such a surreal day all around,” said the 21-year-old. “I don’t want [it] to end.” The former junior water ski star, a product of Ontario’s tiny Georgian Peaks Ski Club, added: “Europeans don’t know us. We’ve got an escarpment, not mountains—and it doesn’t take long to hike up.”

News Corp.’s sacrificial son

James Murdoch, the youngest and least popular son of News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch, became the family’s first sacrificial lamb felled by the scandal rocking his dad’s media empire. In an apparent bid to placate British politicians and shareholders, the once-presumed heir resigned as head of News Corp.’s British arm. He’s been dispatched to oversee the company’s global TV interests in the U.S., far from the newspaper arm.

Fluke remarks yield new hero

Being branded a “slut” and “prostitute” by conservative talk show blowhard Rush Limbaugh has transformed Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke into a partisan symbol for the Republican Party’s alleged “war on women.” Limbaugh made his much-lambasted remarks after the third-year student testified before a Democratic committee that her Catholic college should pay for birth control. Barack Obama, whose health care overhaul requires many institutions to provide such coverage, telephoned Fluke to thank her for speaking out about “the concerns of American women.” Her parents, the President added, should be proud of her.

Nose out of joint

Battered and bandaged Egyptian MP Anwar al-Bilkimy appeared on state TV last week, claiming to have been the victim of a violent carjacking. But doctors and medical staff at a suburban Cairo hospital quickly came forward with the truth: the ultra-conservative Nour party member had actually had a nose job, which accounted for the cast and ugly bruises. Bilkimy was forced to resign—not for having faked a violent crime, but for having had plastic surgery, which the strict Islamist party believes interferes with “God’s creation.”

Suppressed but not silenced

Prominent Tibetan poet and blogger Tsering Woeser said Chinese authorities prevented her from receiving a Dutch award for courage for speaking on behalf of the rights of Tibetans. The writer, who blogged about violence in Tibet in 2008, told the Associated Press police came to her Beijing apartment and told her she was being barred from receiving the Prince Claus Fund of the Netherlands award, then placed her under virtual house arrest. If the move was intended to suppress her, it didn’t: Christa Meindersma, director of the Prince Claus Fund, said: “The fact that Tsering Woeser is not free to leave her home and freely express herself demonstrates once again the importance of her voice.”

Gaga’s bully pulpit

Lady Gaga launched her anti-bullying foundation Born This Way at Harvard last week, urging the audience to “challenge meanness.” There’s no law to make people be kind, she said, providing a takeaway visual: “I wish there was because, you know, I’d be chained naked to a fence somewhere trying to pass it.”

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