This week's Newsmakers -

This week’s Newsmakers

Prince Philip gets the Order of Canada, Bush gets a library and Obama gets a basketball


Jason Reed/Reuters

Sorry, Jeb. Mom says ‘No.’

Four living U.S. presidents paid tribute last week to No. 43 at the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas. Nary a harsh word was spoken about the Decider, although in a recent interview with the Dallas News, he joked that “some people are surprised I can even read.” The briefest speech came from the frail George H.W. Bush Sr., “41,” as his son called him. Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all praised Bush Jr.’s help in fighting AIDS in Africa. Obama credited his resolve after 9/11 and called him comfortable in his own skin. Bush is urging his younger brother,? Jeb Bush, to take a run at the presidency in 2016. But Barbara Bush, matriarch of the clan, says dynasties shouldn’t control the White House: “We’ve had enough Bushes.”

Subterranean serenade

Commuters emerging at the 66th Street stop in New York’s subway last Thursday found a better class of busker. On the platform was crooner Michael Bublé and the a capella group Naturally 7, his frequent touring partners, doing a moving version of the Jackson 5 classic Who’s Lovin’ You. He was surrounded in a New York minute by a camera-phone-wielding contingent of female fans. No one threw him loose change, but Bublé, in town to promote To Be Loved, his new album, called subway singing “the most authentic, organic way to make music.” He was certainly more animated than in the photo of him posted by his pregnant wife, Luisana Lopilato, where his face was frozen under a concrete-like cosmetic facial pack. The things one does for love.

Social media meltdown

B.C.’s provincial election campaign has claimed four candidates, who learned—duh!—that their offensive tweets and blog posts live forever on the Internet. NDP candidate Dayleen van Ryswyk bit the dust for ranting against francophones and First Nations people in blog posts from 2008. Then three Conservative candidates were fired in a week: Ian Tootill for tweeting about Hitler and proclaiming “We men love sluts”; the aptly named Mischa Popoff for tweeting critical comments about single mothers and the Missing Women’s Inquiry; Ron Herbert for calling both Premier Christy Clark and Supreme Court Chief? Justice Beverley McLachlin a “bitch” on Twitter. “You think it’s like speaking to someone in your living room,” Herbert told the Vancouver Sun, “but you don’t realize that there’s a global audience.”

The slow death of fast food

David Whipple of Utah bought a McDonald’s hamburger in 1999 and decided to keep it for a few months to see if it would decay. He stuffed it in a coat pocket in its original wrapping. The coat spent a year or two in the back of a closet before his wife discovered the burger. “And we pulled it out and said, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it looks the same way,’ ” he told the CBS TV show The Doctors. Some 14 years after its purchase, only the pickle had disintegrated. The burger and bun had no mould, fungus or smell of decay. Whipple now uses it as a cautionary tale. “It’s great for the grandkids to see . . . what happens with fast food,” he said. And what doesn’t happen.

Gosh, Steve, you shouldn’t have

We’re not sure what Prime Minister Stephen Harper gets his kids, Rachel and Ben, for Christmas, but let’s hope they fared better in 2011 than U.S. President Barack Obama, who received a basketball signed by the Toronto Raptors (23 wins to 43 losses). Harper’s gifts also included historic maps of North America. Total value: $1,880. All told, POTUS received $240,000 in gifts that year, most going to the National Archives. The single most-expensive gift was a blue mask sculpture from the president of the tiny Gabonese Republic, Ali Bongo Ondimba, valued at $52,695. Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy lavished 16 gifts, including two Hermès golf bags and Baccarat crystal statuettes of golfers, totalling $41,675.71.

The great escape

Things were going swimmingly aboard the Reel Irie, a fishing charter boat based in St. Lucia. San Francisco tourist Dan Suski, 30, was wrestling a 90-kg marlin, helped by his 39-year-old sister Kate Suski of Seattle, when high seas washed into the boat, flooding the engine. Capt. Griffith “Doing it” Joseph had just enough time to cut the fishing line, radio a mayday and order abandon ship before it sank, stranding him, crewman Timothy Cooper and the Suskis in shark-infested waters, 13 km from shore. Crew and passengers, all wearing life vests, were soon separated, as they began a marathon swim toward land. It was almost 14 hours before the exhausted Suskis reached a sandy spit. The crew members were in the water 23 hours before they were rescued. The island’s tourism minister, Lorne Theophilus, called their survival a “miracle.”

Advice to Bigfoot: don’t look up

Researchers in the U.S. and Canada are raising funds for an aerial assault on the supposed habitat in B.C. and Washington state of the elusive (and perhaps mythical) sasquatch. Utah-based researcher William Barnes is trying to raise $300,000 to buy a high-tech, camera-equipped airship created by Remote Aerial Tripods Inc. of Alberta. “The challenge of locating a solitary, nocturnal, far-ranging, intelligent primate is demonstrated by the dearth of definitive photographic evidence,” Barnes writes on the Falcon Project website. Barnes, who said he saw a sasquatch in 1997, has several experts on the team. They include Jeff Meldrum, a professor of anthropology at Idaho State University, and Vancouver Island wildlife biologist John Bindernagel, author of two books on the subject: North America’s Great Ape, and The Discovery of the Sasquatch: Reconciling Culture, History and Science in the Discovery Process.

Jasper Juinen/Reuters

A long-overdue honour

For royals watchers, it was considered a black eye that Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, hadn’t received Canada’s highest honour: companion of the Order of Canada, despite long years of service as the patron to some 35 Canadian organizations. That was rectified last weekend when Gov.-Gen. David Johnston awarded him both the OC and the Order of Military Merit. It was the 91-year-old prince’s turn to sport a shiner, a bruise he apparently woke up with recently. The return of the king After more than a century, the Netherlands finally got its man as Queen Beatrix, 75, abdicated the throne to her eldest son, Willem-Alexander. The move makes the 46-year-old the first Dutch king since 1890, when William III died, leaving his 10-year-old daughter Wilhelmina as monarch. But the country shouldn’t prepare for a century of male-centric monarchy: Willem-Alexander and his wife, Queen Máxima, have three daughters, with the eldest, Catharina-Amalia, set to follow in her father’s path.

A CBCer joins the Twitter flock

Kirstine Stewart’s job as executive vice-president for CBC English-language services was harried enough, what with responsibility for all TV, radio, online—and the musings of Don Cherry. Now she’s moved from @kstewartcbc to @kirstinestewart as head of Twitter Canada, and its endless barrage of 140-character thought bubbles. Naturally, she tweeted farewell: “To my fellow CBCers, such a gift to have worked w you, + learn from you. It would be folly to underestimate the greatness of #CBC. #CBC rules.”

Lock up your liquor, nothing is safe

Seriously, Toronto! Are you telling us nobody recognizes Burberry Shirt Guy? His picture was broadcast worldwide after nicking a 50-year-old, $26,000 bottle of Glenfiddich Single Malt from a downtown Liquor Control Board of Ontario store. He picked a display-case lock, slipped the bottle under his coat and sailed into criminal history. About 35 to 45 years old, five foot ten, roaming free and looking thirsty. Is there a pact among scotch drinkers not to rat him out?

Conversation starter

NBA centre Jason Collins made history this week by coming out of the closet. “I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport,” the 31-year-old wrote in Sports Illustrated. “But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation.”

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