Names in the news

Will and Kate fight back, Bill Clinton reveals the secret to his presidency and Putin ’fesses up

Newsmakers: Sept. 12-19, 2012

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge's Diamond Jubilee Tour of the Far East

Sarah calls in her chits

Practise your music scales and maybe one day you too can play the White House. Former U.S. president Bill Clinton flew to Vancouver to help out Sarah McLachlan, who assembled a stellar crew for her Voices in the Park concert to raise funds for her music school for at-risk youth. Among those performing at her behest on a perfect September Saturday were Jann Arden, Bryan Adams and Stevie Nicks. Clinton, who left his sax at home, delivered a short, sweet message about the importance of music in fostering creativity and brain development. “It is very unlikely I would have ever become president had I not been in school music from the time I was 9 until the time I was 17,” he told the audience of 11,000. McLachlan, he added, has helped his various causes for 20 years “She did it when I was up. She did it when I was down. Politics—it’s a contact sport, in case you hadn’t noticed.” He was honoured to return the favour.

Keep calm and carry on

Talk about awkward timing: Prince William and his wife, Kate, were visiting a mosque in the predominantly Muslim nation of Malaysia when topless photos of the duchess of Cambridge hit newsstands. The blurry shots show the pair poolside at the Provençal retreat of the Queen’s nephew, Viscount Linley. While Kate maintained her smiling public facade, her husband, who is fiercely protective of his wife, took on a “look of absolute thunder,” according to the BBC royal reporter. Royal lawyers launched an all-out attack to stop the photos from spreading further—publications in Italy and Ireland reprinted the snaps before a court-ordered ban. The couple, on a royal tour of the Pacific, pressed on, taking the stiff-upper-lip advice of an aide to “stay calm and carry on.”

Origami this, pig

You have to give “Bacon Moose” full marks for style, if not subtlety. Most folks would mutter and curse when hit with a dubious $137 traffic ticket, but not the Houston man with the YouTube moniker Bacon Moose. He spent more than four hours folding 137 dollar bills into tiny origami pigs and delivered them in two Dunkin’ Donuts boxes to the municipal court offices in Jersey Village, Texas, with a video camera rolling. On the video he describes the town and its red-light cameras as “pretty much a money trap,” so he “decided to pay in the appropriate manner.” “Wass that?” asked the clerk, who refused to unfold them. He called in a police officer who ordered Moose to unfold the bills but not before bursting into laughter and pulling out his camera. “Little piggies in a donut box, I got it, I got it,” the officer said. The bemused clerk offered advice: “Put the creativity into something more useful.”

Newsmakers: Sept. 12-19, 2012

Alexsey Druginyn/RIA/Reuters

And speaking of bacon

Already the established arbiter of all friendly debates and wagers over historical trivia and song lyrics, Google is now hoping to become the authority on Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Simply type in “bacon number” and the name of a film star and Google will provide an answer to the immortal challenge that any actor can be connected to Kevin Bacon by six degrees or fewer. “It’s a tiny step toward the bigger mission of understanding how people and entities are related,” explained a Google engineer. Well that and, as with everything else on the Internet, wasting time and settling bar bets.

Cute, in an ugly sort of way

Great was the celebration when McMaster University biologist Jacob Esselstyn peeked into a bucket trap he’d placed in a remote Indonesian rainforest. He started hollering—“words you can’t quote”—when he saw it contained a shrew rat with a long nose, no molars and very few teeth. The tooth-deprived rat is new a species that likely evolved over millions of years as it adapted to its diet of earthworms, said Esselstyn. The creature is now named paucidentomys vermidax: “few toothed mouse, devourer of worms.”

Putin’s pics

Vladimir Putin shattered the world’s illusions this week when he acknowledged that some of the photos of him cavorting with wild animals were not, in fact, entirely candid. After being photographed flying with cranes, the Russian president admitted to a journalist that the photos were purposefully staged to bring attention to wildlife conservation. “I thought up these tigers myself,” Putin reportedly said, referring to a photo where he was shown shooting a tranquilizer gun at a tiger poised to attack. “The leopards were also my idea. Yes, I know, they were caught before but the most important thing is to draw public attention to the problem.”

And in tonight’s nudes . . .

It seems Canadian actress Alison Pill is all thumbs, though her fans don’t seem to mind. Apparently Pill, who plays, appropriately, a bumbling producer on the HBO series The Newsroom, tried to delete a self-portrait in which she is sprawled topless on a bed. Instead she tweeted the photo to her 15,000 followers before quickly deleting it and apologizing. Her fiancé, fellow Canuck actor Jay Baruchel, seemed unperturbed by the incident: “My fiancée is a hilarious dork.” Only a cynic would suggest it’s really hard to mix up tweeting with deleting. But her accident did net her 13,000 new followers within hours.

Nine months will tell the tale

Kindergarten staff on the Danish island of Fyn have taken a proactive approach to solving the country’s low birth rate: seven island nurseries offered two hours of free babysitting Thursday night to allow parents some “quality copulation time.” Dorte Nyman of the Grasshoppers nursery said about 20 of the site’s 42 children were booked to attend the evening “party” so their parents could have some playtime of their own. After all, “if there aren’t enough children,” Nyman told the BBC, “there aren’t enough jobs for us.” Denmark’s birth rate ranks 185th of 221 countries.

Unsportsmanlike behaviour

Snowboarding god Shaun White has been charged with public intoxication and vandalism after a series of late-night incidents in and around a Nashville hotel. Allegations include a foot chase that ended with the two-time gold medallist running into the bystander who was pursuing him, falling and hitting his head on a fence. White’s mugshot shows him sporting a black eye. Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar, meanwhile, was caught using his eye black—the tape baseball players put under their eyes to fight glare—to relay a homophobic slur. Escobar was duly suspended for three games, his salary for which will be donated to You Can Play, an organization that promotes equality in sports, and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

And you should see his hat

Oh, sure, Japanese fashion designer Kazuhiro Watanabe has his bad hair days, but then there are days he feels 10 feet tall. Of course, on those days, 113.5 cm (three feet eight inches) of that is hair. For 15 years he has been cultivating a spike-like “Mohican.” It takes two hours, one tube of gel and three cans of hairspray to achieve the desired effect, so he only trots it out on special occasions, presumably days he doesn’t take the subway. His effort has netted a place in the Guinness World Records for the world’s tallest Mohawk. Aside from all that glory, he calls his hair a protest against “the conformity of Japanese society.”

To catch a cheat

Two-time Olympic medallist Beckie Scott has been named to the board of the World Anti-Doping Agency. The pride of Vermillion, Alta., knows what it’s like to complete clean in cross-country skiing, a sport where too many athletes resort to doping to gain an edge. She won gold at the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics after the two women who finished ahead of her were disqualified for using a performance-enhancing drug. Now she’ll help set policy for WADA—“a great responsibility and one that I take very seriously,” said Scott, whose outspoken views on corruption in sport have sometimes put her at odds with senior members of the International Olympic Committee.

Come to Uncle Joe

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden couldn’t resist making a goofy face for four-month-old Simon Hamill during a campaign stop in Wisconsin. Though all politicians have to hold babies—whether they like it or not—the VP, famous for doting on his own kids and grandkids, makes it look effortless.

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