Newsmakers: Canadiens curse, kidnapping and a convention for whistlers

Top stories from the week


Erik De Castro/Reuters

Free at last

Long ago given up for dead, three Cleveland women—Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus—escaped from the house where they had allegedly been held captive for 10 years; nine in DeJesus’s case. All had been teenagers when they went missing. Berry’s six-year-old daughter was also discovered in the house, which is owned by one of three brothers now in custody. “If you don’t believe in miracles, think again,” said Sandra Ruiz, DeJesus’s aunt. The hero of the day is neighbour Charles Ramsey, who heard a woman struggling in the house, where he thought a man lived alone. He found Berry trying to push through a door and assumed it was a domestic dispute. When he went to help her break free, she told him to call 911. When one reporter asked if he knew there were women in the home, Ramsey answered: “No, because I woulda pulled this heroic stuff last year!”

A shoe-in

Former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos—known for her extravagant lifestyle and thousands of shoes—is campaigning to hold onto her congressional seat in the May 13 elections. Marcos, who represents a district in the family’s home province of Ilocos Norte, fled the Philippines with her husband, Ferdinand, after he was ousted from power, leaving a horrific record of human rights abuses and corruption. The so-called Steel Butterfly, who returned from exile in Hawaii after her husband’s death in 1989, first ran for office in 2010, and heads up an unlikely political dynasty: her daughter governs a province and her son is a national senator.

Man bites dog

In journalism, it is a litmus test for what constitutes news—a quotidian, non-newsworthy event (“dog bites man”) that becomes a subject of fascination when events reverse those terms. Last week, the Des Moines Register reported that Laine Henry, of Madrid, Iowa, bit a 50-lb. Lab-retriever mix named Buddy on the snout after the animal clamped onto his wife Caren’s face, tearing off her nose. The man-on-dog action proved the only way to persuade Buddy to let go of her. Doctors hope to replace Caren’s lost nose with a reconstruction using cartilage from her ear. Meanwhile, Buddy is in detention, but will likely be returned to his owner because Dallas County, where the attack occurred, has no vicious-dog ordinance on the books.

Dating Martha: it’s a good thing

There’s only one thing missing from Martha Stewart’s empire: someone to share it with. The domestic doyenne, who joined, looking for love, announced this week that she’s narrowed her search to two men. The 71-year-old had been looking for someone she could “have coffee with” and “go to bed with.” She was looking for a non-smoker, at least one inch taller than her five-foot-nine frame, who earned more than $150,000 per year.

Curse of the Canadiens

The citizens of Quebec City are already praying for the return of the NHL and have placed their hopes in a new 18,000-seat arena. Yet thanks to one cheeky construction worker, the building might be haunted by ghosts even before its completion in 2015. In a 22-second clip, Eric Rivest filmed himself tossing a scuffed Canadiens hockey puck into one of the pilings as it was being filled with concrete. “There you go, Nordiques, we are now in your head,” Rivest can be heard saying as he does the deed.

My year without the Internet

Last year Paul Miller, a 26-year-old tech writer, was feeling burnt out. “I wanted a break from modern life—the hamster wheel of an email inbox, the constant flood of WWW information that drowned out my sanity,” he wrote recently. So he decided to unplug for 12 months, beginning March 1, 2012, and live without the Internet. The experiment taught him there are “deeper reasons for most of my problems that really didn’t have to do with the Internet,” Miller, the former editor of the blog Engadget, wrote of his offline existence on The Verge, another tech website. Although he got back into reading (The Odyssey) and sports (Frisbee), he soon discovered a new offline obsession: the couch. “I prop my feet up on the coffee table, play a video game, and listen to an audiobook.” Ultimately, he writes, “offline existence became mundane.”

The whistle-blower

He can trill like a songbird but Jeffrey Amos, 38, had no idea he was one of the world’s top whistlers until last month, when the Toronto case worker with Ontario’s Ministry of Community and Social Services entered the International Whistlers Convention competition in Louisburg, N.C., placing second in the men’s grand champions category. Amos, who employs the palate whistling method, wherein he puts his tongue to the roof of his mouth and pushes air through his teeth, practised for an hour a day in the month leading up to the contest, rehearsing six songs—among them I Feel Pretty, from West Side Story, the tune that won him his ranking.

Still wanted after all these years

Joanne Chesimard, an African-American activist, is changing the idea that violence, crime and murder are typically male pursuits. Last week, Chesimard—also known as Assata Shakur—became the first woman to be included in the FBI’s most-wanted terrorist list. In 1977, Chesimard was convicted of having murdered New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster during a routine traffic stop. Two years later, members of the Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Army broke Chesimard out of jail, and she lived underground in the U.S. until 1984, when she fled to Cuba, where she was portrayed as a freedom fighter (Fidel Castro granted her asylum, hailing her a refugee from a racist political system). She has lived in Cuba ever since.

Playground politics

Xavier Dolan continues to push buttons. The 24-year-old director, acclaimed for his 2009 debut I Killed My Mother, recently shot a video for French new wave act Indochine’s single College Boy in which the lead character, a gay teen, is bullied, beaten, harassed, crucified and shot multiple times. Filmed in the playground of a downtown Montreal school, the black-and-white video was almost instantly banned on Quebec’s MusiquePlus channel, and censored on YouTube shortly after. Dolan says the video has an anti-bullying message, and should be seen. “Preventing the young generation from seeing the clip is to prevent them from understanding this message at the most crucial age,” he told France 24.

No longer just a Liberal problem

It’s been a difficult few weeks for Quebec’s political class, thanks in large part to veteran political organizer Gilles Cloutier. Testifying at the Charbonneau commission investigating corruption, Cloutier said that for decades he’d raised money illegally for the Liberal Party of Quebec as well as the Parti Québécois. He masterminded the so-called “straw man donation” scheme, in which he would funnel large corporate donations, which are illegal in Quebec, through hundreds of individual donors. Cloutier implicated a sitting judge in the scheme, and said that he once paid $100,000 to curry favour with former PQ transport minister Guy Chevrette (who denied Cloutier’s claim). The allegation of Péquiste wrongdoing was apparently too much for Quebec’s PQ government. “It annoys me when [the commission isn’t] careful,” said Deputy Premier François Gendron. “I have my name and my credibility at stake.”

Know when to walk away

Henry Gribbohm eventually won a prize at a carnival game, but not before spending all of his savings—$2,600 in total—to do it. Gribbohm attended the carnival in Manchester, N.H., where he started playing a game called Tubs of Fun in hopes of winning an Xbox Kinect. He quickly blew through $300 and after returning home to get more money, lost another $2,300, in an attempt to win his original $300 back. He came away with a giant stuffed banana. “It’s not possible that it wasn’t rigged,” Gribbohm, 30, told Boston’s WBZ-TV. “You just get caught up in the whole ‘I’ve got to win my money back.’ ”

One-horse town

Last weekend, Louisville, Ky., belonged to Orb. Twenty-eight-year-old jockey Joel Rosario rode the bay colt, who came from behind before powering his way through mud to victory in the 139th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

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