This week's newsmakers -

This week’s newsmakers

The luckiest man alive keeps running, Witherspoon plays the fame card and Nova Scotia mourns MacNeil


Olivia Harris/Reuters

Scouting the royal bump

Catherine, the duchess of Cambridge, isn’t due until mid-July, but the future queen is starting to show. This week she mingled during a review of Scouts at Windsor Castle.

Blessed art thou

Joe Berti may be the world’s luckiest man. Just seconds after crossing the finish line at the Boston Marathon last week, bombs began exploding around him. Amy, his wife, who was there to see him race, was hit by shrapnel, but was not badly injured. Two days later, shortly after arriving home in Texas, Joe’s car was rocked as he drove past the fertilizer plant explosion in West, which has left as many as 15 dead. “We need to keep him moving,” says Amy. “Maybe he just needs to stand in an open field.”

CSI: Kanata

Gritty Pittsburgh Penguins winger Matt Cooke has earned his reputation as one of the NHL’s dirtiest players. But it’s fans of the Ottawa Senators who might bear him the most animus. During a mid-February tilt, Cooke stepped on the leg of star Sens defenceman Erik Karlsson, slicing through his Achilles tendon. The incident not only derailed Karlsson’s MVP-type season, it left the team struggling to make the playoffs. And Ottawa owner Eugene Melnyk was so enraged he hired a forensic investigator to try and prove that the skate cut was deliberate. Last week, the two teams met again and Sens fans staged a “hate fest” for Cooke, complete with wanted posters and taunting signs. All the noise seemed to have little effect. The Pens won 3-1, and Cooke collected an assist.

Leave them laughing

Rita MacNeil came to fame relatively late—winning a Juno for most promising vocalist at age 42 in 1987. But in her three-decade musical career she touched a lot of hearts. Last week, fans, politicians and her compatriots packed a church in Big Pond, N.S., to bid adieu to the Cape Breton songstress, who died at 68, from complications following surgery. There were tributes to her sweet voice and even sweeter nature. But it was MacNeil’s sense of humour that made the biggest impression. Her daughter Laura Lewis broke up the crowd with the handwritten instructions that her heavy-set mother had left behind. “Upon my death, I would want to be cremated immediately, my ashes to be placed in my tea room teapot. Two, if necessary.”

A lesson in cowardice

An heir to the world’s biggest beermaker resigned his lifetime membership in the National Rifle Association (NRA) this week, calling the U.S. organization a tool of the gun industry. Adolphus Busch IV, one of the NRA’s most prominent members, was outraged with the NRA’s role in blocking federal U.S. legislation that would have limited the size of ammunition magazines and expanded background checks. In a letter to the NRA, Busch wrote that its “distorted values” place “a priority on the needs of gun and ammunition manufacturers.” Gabby Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman shot point-blank in Tucson two years ago, was also disgusted by the bill’s failure, but reserved her ire for cowardly U.S. senators. A minority “gave in to fear” in blocking “common-sense legislation,” she wrote in a scathing New York Times piece.

City of Atlanta Dept. of Corrections/Reuters

Reese falling to pieces

It’s never a good idea for celebrities to play the “Don’t you know who I am” card. And even more so when they’re dealing with a cop. It’s a lesson that Reese Witherspoon learned the hard way when she was charged with disorderly conduct by Atlanta police last week, after having taken issue with an officer who was arresting her husband, Jim Toth, on suspicion of driving under the influence. With gossip sites happily splashing the pair’s mug shots, as well as her handcuffed “perp walk” into the station, the Oscar-winning actress issued a contrite apology. “I clearly had one drink too many, and I’m embarrassed about the things I said,” read the statement. “I have nothing but respect for the police, and I’m very sorry for my behaviour.”

Somewhere over the rainbow

A New Zealand MP became an unlikely global star last week, after a speech supporting the country’s legalization of gay marriage went viral. Libertarian MP Maurice Williamson told opponents: “The sun will still rise tomorrow, your teenage daughter will still argue back with you as if she knows everything, your mortgage will not grow, you will not have skin diseases or rashes or toads in your bed. The world will just carry on.” Noting that it was pouring rain in his Pakuranga riding—contrary to claims New Zealand’s drought could be blamed on the marriage equality bill—he cited the appearance of “the most enormous big gay rainbow” as a sign his side was right. After adopting the bill, members of the Kiwi House—and the visitors sitting above them—burst into a spontaneous rendition of the Maori love song Pokarekare Ana, serenading the bill’s sponsor, lesbian MP Louisa Wall.

Hell hath no fury . . .

Mark Sanford’s scorned ex-wife Jenny denied, last week, that she had leaked court filings revealing that the former South Carolina governor had trespassed at her home earlier this year. But the politician’s humiliated ex is no dunce; as a political spouse, Jenny would certainly have known that by filing the papers in the midst of a hotly contested campaign, they would eventually make it into the press, curtailing Sanford’s comeback attempt. Republicans cut Sanford loose last week; just hours after the papers went public, the National Republican Congressional Committee announced it was halting spending on his campaign. Sanford’s career—and his 20-year marriage—were derailed four years ago, when he claimed to be hiking the Appalachian Trail, but was in fact visiting his Argentine mistress. In the May 7 vote, a race that has grabbed the national spotlight, he’ll face the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert, Elizabeth Colbert Busch.

Unsocial media

Newfoundland and Labrador MHA Gerry Rogers found herself shut out of the provincial legislature last week after refusing to apologize for her Facebook friends. It seems the New Democrat joined a group dedicated to unseating Premier Kathy Dunderdale, in which some members had labelled the Tory leader a “terrorist” and mused about her being shot. Rogers says she’s not responsible for what others write. And Dunderdale is now dealing with her own online scandal after the CBC checked out her Twitter account and found that the premier was following a porn site. They sure do politics differently downhome.

Was it a white Ford Bronco?

Pakistan had its O.J. Simpson moment last week. Pervez Musharraf, the country’s former president and military leader, fled a courtroom after judges ordered his arrest on charges of treason. Musharraf dashed from the Islamabad High Court in a black SUV, leading the media on a slow-speed chase that ended at his fortified villa in an exclusive neighbourhood; there, aides say, he relaxed, smoking cigars. But he appeared ashen-faced the following day when he was arrested by police—marking a new low for the former army chief, who held absolute power for over a decade. Musharraf, who faces charges of failing to provide adequate security to former prime minister Benazir Bhutto before her 2007 assassination, claims the allegations are “politically motivated.” “Truth,” he said, “will eventually prevail.”

Now that’s snail mail

Twenty-eight years ago, a Nova Scotia lad penned a message to a lady friend, carefully rolled it into a bottle, and tossed it into the sea. Last week, the message was finally found—8,000 km from Atlantic Canada, on the banks of a Croatian river. “Mary,” he wrote, “you really are a great person. I hope we can keep in correspondence. I said I would write. Your friend always—Jonathon, Nova Scotia, 1985.” Kite surfer Matea Rezik, who discovered the sentimental note after the bottle washed up on the banks of the Neretva River, posted a photo of it on Facebook, in hopes of reaching either Jonathon or Mary.


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