Cesar Millan, TV’s “Dog Whisperer,” was a hit with the crowd at sold-out Scotiabank Place in Ottawa last week, even though Ontario law deprived him of a key cast mate—Junior, the two-year-old American pit bull that recently took over from the dearly departed Daddy as Millan’s “right-hand man.” Millan, halfway through a tour of Canada, demonstrated training techniques on local dogs and expounded on his philosophy of calm assertiveness, but took time to criticize Ontario’s 2005 ban on pit bulls. “In the ’70s, the breed that people were afraid of was the Doberman,” he told the audience. “In the 2000s, it’s the pit bull. It’s not the breed, it’s the human behind the dog.”
Absolute powers of persuasion
Chinese authorities may not have much success persuading European governments to boycott the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony honouring jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo, but they’re having better luck at home. Author Yu Jie, a friend of Liu’s, said he and his wife have been stopped from leaving their Beijing home by security officers, for fear they plan to go to Oslo. Meanwhile, Guo Xianliang, an engineer from Yunnan province, disappeared while on a business trip in Guangzhou. He’d been detained for distributing flyers about Liu, according to fellow activist Ye Du. Police have also reportedly detained a young woman, Mou Yanxi, who tweeted her support for Liu. “If such behaviour goes on,” her friend Zhang Shijie tweeted last week, “it will eventually happen to all of us.”
One dainty step for mankind
The global ratings juggernaut Dancing With the Stars has matched race-car drivers, politicians and pole vaulters with professional dancers. There’s just one ironclad rule: the pairings are of men with women. Now Israel’s version of the show is sashaying across that line, unveiling Gili Shem Tov and Dorit Milman as the franchise’s first same-sex couple. Tov is a lesbian TV sports presenter. “When we go on prime-time TV as a couple, we’re showing everyone can love everyone,” said Milman, the dancer assigned to her. South Africa’s version of Idol is in no danger of shattering any such barriers. The nation just voted in Elvis Blue, its fourth white champion, by a landslide, over the other finalist, a black pastor and graphic designer named L’loyd Cele. The silver lining: the two are “best friends” and will share the prize money.
Out of the deep
Four years ago Peter Trayhurn and Geoff Tosio survived the diving trip of a lifetime off the coast of New South Wales in Australia. The two men, who were exploring underwater caves, came to the surface eight kilometres from shore to find their boat had disappeared after the anchor line snapped. For four hours they were adrift on the open sea and they used their underwater camera to document the harrowing journey. “I thought, ‘This is a pretty interesting experience. I should take some photos,’ ” Trayhurn told the Daily Mail. They were eventually hauled back to land—but not before their rescue boat capsized. The camera was lost forever, or so they thought. Last week Trayhurn got a call from Steve Campbell, a plumber who’d been walking his dog on the beach. He’d found a camera in the sand, and had a hunch it might be theirs. The pictures have resurfaced in a year in which Trayhurn survived two other brushes with death: a car rollover and surgery for cancer.
An olive branch, and a briefcase
Serbian President Boris Tadic apologized to the Croatian people for the atrocities inflicted on them during the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. He was joined by Croatian leader Ivo Josipovic in laying wreaths over a mass grave of those massacred in 1991. Tadic said, “I am here to pay respect to the victims, to say the words of apology, to show regret and create a possibility for Serbia and Croatia to turn a new page.” As it happens, penitence may also be good for business: his efforts are being seen by European diplomats as a promising sign for Serbia joining the EU.
His game was on ice anyway
Toronto Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf won’t play for the next four to six weeks after suffering a “significant leg laceration” during a losing game against the Ottawa Senators last week. The cut, which required surgery, is the latest in a string of tough breaks: spectators have taken to booing Phaneuf, who hasn’t scored in 10 games. Meanwhile, Phaneuf’s actress girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert’s miniseries, Guns, won big at the Geminis. (She stars opposite Colm Feore.) Incidentally, besides issuing a statement about Phaneuf’s injury, the Leafs clarified that, contrary to reports, Cuthbert did not tweet the news about the injury: she does not even have a Twitter account.
Cruising altitude: pretty high
Ever the showman, Tom Cruise wowed a crowd of people inside a Dubai high-rise when he unexpectedly rappelled past their windows last week. The action star was filming a stunt for Mission: Impossible IV that required him to dangle from a few wires attached to the world’s tallest building. Dressed in black, Cruise waved and smiled to giddy onlookers, who snapped photos and video as he slipped passed them. Said one spectator: “He was cool as a cucumber.”
A Sikh by any other name
As Nikki Haley was elected governor of South Carolina in the U.S. mid-terms, Indian newspapers quietly celebrated the victory of the woman born to Sikh immigrants as Nimrata Randhawa. Haley, anointed one of Sarah Palin’s “Mama Grizzlies,” overcame allegations of marital infidelity to become the nation’s second state governor of Indian-American origin. The Telegraph of Calcutta marvelled that it had happened in “a redneck state where a role for women in public life does not come easy, especially if she is brown.” The Times of India, noting Haley’s Tea Party allegiance, saw her win as a sign of “minorities, including people of Indian origin, shifting to the right as they assimilate and go up the social and economic ladder.”
Recipe for humble pie
Until last week, Judith Griggs was a little-known editor at a small New England magazine, Cook’s Source. Then a writer named Monica Gaudio apparently wrote to ask why the magazine ran a story of hers from a website without permission; she asked for an apology and a $130 donation to Columbia’s journalism school. Griggs’s purported reply won her 15 minutes of infamy. “Honestly Monica, the Web is considered ‘public domain,’ ” she reportedly wrote, after boasting she had been in the business 30 years. “You should be happy we just didn’t ‘lift’ your whole article and put someone else’s name on it!” She then suggested Gaudio pay her for her editing. Facebook and Twitter storms ensued, with the likes of Neil Gaiman wading in. A Forbes blog noted that Griggs’s update to her own Facebook page changed her picture to one of a colander filled with strawberries.
Two peas in a pod
No, it wasn’t 9/11, or hurricane Katrina. The nadir of his presidency, George W. Bush told Matt Lauer in an interview that aired Monday, was after Katrina, when Kanye West said “Bush doesn’t care about black people.” “You’re not saying that the worst moment in your presidency was watching the misery in Louisiana,” Lauer clarified. “You’re saying it was when someone insulted you because of that.” Bush said he felt pretty bad about Katrina too. The former president, on the talk-show circuit plugging his memoir, Decision Points, found a more sympathetic ear in his erstwhile assailant. West knows how Bush feels—“the same thing happened to me,” he said, recalling the time he was callously late in responding to a national disaster—uh, too quick to interrupt Taylor Swift’s MTV award speech.
We’ll stick to dirty water, thanks
After posing for the January issue of Playboy, Pamela Anderson had the men’s magazine send her fee of US$25,000 directly to the charity Waves for Water, which provides water filters to parts of Indonesia recovering from natural disasters. Sounds benevolent, but not everyone thought so: the Islamic Defenders Front condemned the donation, and argued that consuming water that came from Anderson’s money would be “against the law of God” because it came through “immoral acts.” In their view, clean doesn’t quite equal pure.
Well, let’s ask the pretty women
Has Silvio Berlusconi finally gone too far? The Italian PM has always shrugged off criticism of his bon vivant lifestyle. But now a Milanese police commander is facing questions from prosecutors after freeing a 17-year-old Moroccan runaway, Karima “Ruby” El Mahroug, on direct orders from the PM. Berlusconi admitted placing the call, inviting outrage by explaining, “If I happen to look pretty girls in the face now and then, well, it’s better to be a fan of pretty women than to be gay.” Still unrepentant, he warned uneasy members of his right-wing coalition, “If you watn to shelve Berlusconi, you can’t do it with a palace plot – the Italians wouldn’t allow that.”
Emma Watson’s aha moment
Her newly shorn head graces multiple magazine covers, and the seventh Harry Potter film is out next week. But the star who plays Hermione Granger has her own measure of when she arrived: when she threw a 20th birthday party, she told Marie Claire, and didn’t have to ask anyone not to post photos on Facebook. “Not a single picture went up. That was when I knew I’d found a solid group of friends, and I felt like I belonged.”