Prince Harry takes flight
The Apache attack helicopter is a nasty piece of weaponry, bristling with rockets, a 30-mm machine gun and 16 Hellfire missiles. It may soon be in the hands of a member of the British Royal Family. Last week, Prince Harry got his wings from the colonel in chief of the Army Air Corps, who happens to be his father, Prince Charles. Harry also received the Peter Adams Trophy for the student showing the best tactical ability. That, and the decision of Air Corps brass to train him on the challenging Apache—an assignment awarded the top two per cent of the class—show the army has considerable faith in the 25-year-old prince. Next up, eight months of intense training and perhaps a ticket back to Afghanistan. “There is still a huge mountain for me to climb if I am to pass the Apache training course,” he said.
Will we see less of Oprah’s fans?
The latest issue of Oprah Winfrey’s magazine, O, has Victoria dermatologist Dr. Mark Lupin’s phone ringing off the hook. Lupin is one of a handful of Canadian doctors offering the UltraShape treatment, a “non-invasive” technique that uses ultrasound waves to break up fat cells beneath the skin. UltraShape is cleared for use in 57 countries, but it has yet to receive FDA approval in the U.S. Patients feel “just a slight tingly sensation,” Lupin told O magazine. The treated fat cells are burned as calories or eliminated from the body as waste.
William Shatner (Capt. James T. Kirk, retd.) may be the richest governor general Canada will never have. Shatner, 79, has been the voice of Priceline.com, the discount travel website, since 1997. Britai’s Times Online reports he took much of his pay in shares, which were trading this week at close to US$250 each. It estimates his hilarious 30-second TV spots as “Priceline Negotiator” have netted him US$600 million.
Mother of all fights
Stephen Harper’s government has won both praise and rebuke in an editorial in Lancet, a respected British medical journal. It praised Canada for making maternal and child health a priority at the G8 summit in Huntsville, Ont., next month. But it criticized Harper’s decision not to include abortion funding in Canada’s plan. “Seventy-thousand women die from unsafe abortions worldwide every year,” the editorial said. “The Canadian government does not deprive women living in Canada from access to safe abortions; it is therefore hypocritical and unjust that it tries to do so abroad.” International Development Minister Bev Oda said the decision was only about “how we best use taxpayers’ dollars.”
The magic of a good education
Brown University in Rhode Island lacks the drama, danger and wizardry of Hogwarts school for magic, which suits Emma Watson fine. The English-born Watson was cast at nine as Hermione Granger, the bright and bossy witch in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Today, she’s a freshman at Brown. The 20-year-old has graduated from cute to beautiful, as a photo shoot for Vanity Fair attests. She’s set aside full-time acting for higher education. Hermione would approve. Her courses include European women’s history, and acting. “I think actually I’m the worst person in the class,” she said.
The brightest bulbs
The public gardens of Ottawa explode in a rainbow of colour every spring, marking the annual tulip festival, and the enduring gratitude of the Dutch people. This week Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, whose wartime birth in Ottawa is part inspiration for the event, returned to the capital to mark the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Holland by Canadian troops. The 67-year-old monarch and her husband, Pieter van Vollenhoven, will attend a number of events to commemorate the liberation, including a meeting at the Canadian War Museum with students who have just returned from the Netherlands, where the memory of the liberation remains as vivid as a new bloom. The Dutch royal family lived in exile in Ottawa during the war, and thanked the capital with a gift of 100,000 tulip bulbs, and millions more in the years since.
It’s all a bit Freudian
A Miami International Airport security screener has been charged with aggravated battery for allegedly using an expandable police baton to beat an apology out of a co-worker. Police said Rolando Negrin, 44, was enraged by the daily ribbing from workmates about the size of his genitals. His body parts were observed during training on the airport’s full-body imaging machines. His colleagues reacted with a degree of professionalism critics of the devices have often anticipated. Negrin “could not take the jokes anymore and lost his mind,” said a Miami-Dade police report.
Miss U.S.A.’s new look
Donald Trump, owner of the Miss U.S.A. pageant, is generating heat and publicity for the May 16 contest with a racy series of website “glam shots” of the 51 contestants. The black-and-white boudoir-style photos make the swimsuit competition look tame. Ashley Bickford of Connecticut wears a corset and fishnet stockings; Brittany Bell of Arizona, stiletto heels and little else. They’re more suggestive than revealing—no different from the semi-nude shot that helped topple contestant Carrie Prejean from the perch of Miss California last year. The Donald credits a simple formula for the pageant’s growing popularity: “The bathing suits got smaller and the heels got higher.”
These boots were made for running
Imelda Marcos, 80, has hit the Philippine campaign trail to rebuild her dynasty, salvage her family’s reputation and save the world. The wife of the late president Ferdinand Marcos, who was tossed from office in 1986 after 20 years of authoritarian rule, is running for congress. She fashions herself an environmentalist. “I feel that my target now is really to save Mother Earth for humanity,” she told the New York Times. She’s also watching over the campaigns of her daughter Imee, running for a provincial governorship, and son Ferdinand Jr., seeking a Senate seat. Imelda, whose 3,000 pairs of shoes were a symbol of a corrupt regime, wants to return a Marcos to the presidency. Not this time. The front-runner is a family nemesis: Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, son of the late former president Corazon Aquino.
Probe definitely needed
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the eccentric four-term president of the Buddhist republic of Kalmyk in southern Russia, recently told a TV interviewer he spent several hours with aliens who visited his Moscow apartment in 1993. He said he was called to his balcony where he entered a “semi-transparent half tube” and met human-like creatures in yellow spacesuits who took him on a tour of their ship, the Moscow Times reports. His claims prompted MP Andre Lebedev to question last week if Ilyumzhinov is fit to govern. Lebedev, a member of the Duma’s security committee, wants Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to investigate and determine if the aliens extracted state secrets.
A constellation of A-list Hollywood is lined up for the juicy role of Lisbeth Salander in the American remake of the hit Swedish-made film, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Anne Hathaway, Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson and Canada’s Ellen Page are reported among those after the part of Salander, a brilliant, emotionally distant computer geek. She is wonderfully portrayed by Noomi Rapace in the Swedish version, now playing in Canadian theatres. The film is the first of a trilogy based on the crime novels by the late Swedish journalist Stieg Larsson. The need for a remake says more about America’s aversion to subtitles than about any limitations in the Swedish film.
Nigeria’s disappearing President Umaru Yar’Adua died last week, six months after vanishing from view. Yar’Adua, 58, spent most of that time in Saudi Arabia being treated for a serious illness. He’d left Nigeria without transferring power, and severed contact with officials and the public, save for a few whispered words to the BBC. The power vacuum was filled in February when Goodluck Jonathan was named acting president, with limited powers. Yar’Adua, a Muslim, died last Wednesday shortly after returning to Nigeria. Jonathan, from the Christian south, will serve out the presidential term until elections next year—a move not sitting well in the Muslim north.
A harp doesn’t make her an angel
She’s cool. She’s hot. She plays the harp. Joanna Newsom, 28, is a singer-songwriter from Nevada City, Calif. Her folk-tinged music is difficult to categorize. Her voice floats like a butterfly, her opinions sting like a bee. Or they did in London last week where she performed songs from her new CD, Have One on Me. Lady Gaga’s style leads people to think “there’s a high level of intelligence in the songwriting,” she told the Guardian, when it’s just “glossy, formulaic pop.” People treat her like the new Madonna, which is no compliment in Newsom’s books: “Fair enough, she is the new Madonna, but Madonna’s a dumb-ass!” she said. Well, Madonna isn’t dumb, Newsom conceded later. “I think maybe she doesn’t hold her money very gracefully, the way some people can’t hold their drink.”
You could say there was new evidence
Zhao Zuohai burst into tears when Chinese judges ordered him released Sunday after he’d served 11 years in prison and narrowly escaped a death sentence for a murder that never happened. Zuohai, a farmer from Henan province, had confessed after months of police torture to the murder of Zhao Zhenshang. The men had fought, and Zuohai was arrested after a headless, limbless body was found in the village. But Zhenshang recently returned, to the shock of villagers. He said he’d fled in 1999 thinking he’d killed Zuohai. Zuohai’s family is seeking one million yuan (about $150,000) in compensation.