Newsmakers: Jan. 5-12, 2011

Vancouver gets revenge, Kate turned the big 3-0, and yet another Kennedy hits the hustings


Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

A Beyoncé baby girl

One name usually suffices for pop queen Beyoncé (surname Knowles), but her new baby girl gets three, all full of meaning for mom and her hubby, rapper Jay-Z (real name Shawn Carter). Little Blue Ivy Carter arrived in style Saturday, reportedly by C-section in a private wing of Manhattan’s Lenox Hill Hospital, rented for $1.3 million. Blue is for The Blueprint, dad’s hugely successful 2001 album. Ivy is a play on Roman numeral IV for Four, mom’s latest album. The little diva also scores dad’s real surname, though Blue Ivy Z has a ring to it, no? While some parents groused that the couple’s hospital security detail was interfering with the enjoyment of their own newborns, Jay-Z was in a mood to celebrate. He has already released Glory on his website, a song celebrating Blue’s birth. In it, he hints at the heartbreak of an earlier miscarriage. “False alarms and false starts,” he raps, “all made better by the sound of your heart.”

Women: the great leveller

Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s great physicists, marked his 70th birthday last Sunday with an admission that the answer to one of life’s great puzzles has eluded him. “Women,” the twice-married Hawking told the New Scientist. “They are a complete mystery.” Ill health prevented him from attending a symposium in his honour at Cambridge University, but in a pre-recorded message he said the future of mankind may depend on space travel. “I don’t think we will survive another thousand years without escaping beyond our fragile universe.” On a lighter note, he admitted he was such an average student at age 12 that a friend bet another a bag of candy he wouldn’t amount to much. “I don’t know if this bet was ever settled and, if so, which way it was decided.”

And no tigers allowed

Elin Nordegren, the aggrieved ex-wife of Tiger Woods, doesn’t putter around with home renovations. When she found the 9,000-sq.-foot Florida mansion in North Palm Beach she purchased last year was infested with termites and not up to code, she flattened the entire $12-million house, TMZ reported. She replaced it with her “dream home”—something you can do with a US$100-million divorce settlement. And if it drives her wayward ex to distraction? Bonus points.

Yulia’s trials

Days after his wife was sent to a penal colony, the husband of jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko fled for the Czech Republic, where Oleksandr called on global leaders to protect her from what he calls efforts to “destroy” her. Last month, Yulia, Ukraine’s former prime minister, began serving a seven-year sentence for abuse of office relating to a 2009 gas deal with Russia. Critics say her prosecution was politically motivated, likely ordered by her political rival, Viktor Yanukovych, charges the Ukrainian president denies.

Reigning cats and dogs

Chile’s Education Minister Harald Beyer is eating his words, or at least two of them. Those would be “military regime,” the understated phrase he wanted in the national school curriculum to describe former Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s 17 years in power. Facing a backlash, Beyer has reverted to “military dictatorship,” the previous descriptor for Pinochet’s rule, which saw thousands tortured, imprisoned or killed. Socialist Party Leader Osvaldo Andrade accused Beyer of using a bland phrase to hide truth. “It has a cat’s ears, a cat’s body. It meows like a cat, yet some want to call it a dog.”

The anti-heist

Call it frustration, impatience, or inspired performance art. Anyway you look at it, Polish art student Andrzej Sobiepan can brag that one of his paintings has been shown in the country’s National Museum—even if he had to sneak in to hang it himself. Sobiepan stuffed the painting under his coat, then hung it in a gallery displaying contemporary Polish art when a guard’s attention was diverted. Museum officials didn’t notice for three days. “I decided I will not wait 30 or 40 years for my works to appear in a place like this,” Sobiepan said later. Museum officials moved the painting to the cafeteria, where it will be auctioned for charity.

Beer goggles might have helped

Saturday Night Live managed to wring some humour out of a shooting at a Winnipeg party that left one man dead and a woman shot in the eye. The Winnipeg Free Press reported that the 30-year-old woman was so heavily impaired she asked paramedics to let her finish her drink before they rushed her to hospital. Or as SNL’s Seth Meyers put it during the Weekend Update segment: “A woman in Canada who was shot in the eye during a New Year’s Eve party refused medical attention until she finished her beer. She’s what’s known in Canada as a ‘keeper.’ ”

The ’80s are the new ’30s

The 1980s produced some dubious music (Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go), some questionable cocktails (the Fuzzy Navel) and one fetching duchess, Kate Middleton. On Jan. 9, she bade goodbye to her 20s, an occasion marked with a 1980s-themed party, commemorating the ancient decade of her birth. Reports are that Kate’s sister Pippa Middleton, 28, and her brother-in-law, Prince Harry, 27, planned the event. Both have sterling credentials: Harry as a prodigious partier, Pippa as editor of Party Times, part of the Middletons’ online Party Pieces business. Rumour has it friends expected unseemly amounts of karaoke fuelled by such specialty cocktails as the Back to the Future, the Walkman, and the Pac-man. A spokesman for St. James’s Palace called the party “low-key and private.” Perhaps that better describes the morning after. Bye-bye banker Swiss Bank chief Philipp Hildebrand was forced to resign this week. Hildebrand faced questions of wrongdoing surrounding a currency swap made by his wife. Last August, Kashya, a former currency trader who now runs a Zurich art gallery, bought US$504,000 weeks before the bank intervened to cap the franc, its biggest policy intervention in decades. Kashya, who claims she bought dollars because the currency was “at a record low, and almost ridiculously cheap,” made tens of thousands of dollars on the trade. “My word is my bond,” said Philipp, denying he had any knowledge of the transactions of his wife.

Rather a lot of Camelot

The Kennedy clan is battling for hearts and minds on two coasts. Caroline Kennedy is reportedly leading a posse of Kennedys hoping to persuade her close cousin Maria Shriver not to reunite with her philandering semi-ex-husband Arnold Schwarzenegger, after they were spotted wearing their wedding rings. Meanwhile in Massachusetts, Joe Kennedy III is considering a run for Congress. The 31-year-old son of former Rep. Joe Kennedy II and the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy would be the fourth generation in the American political arena. He’d attempt to replace the retiring Barney Frank, saving the seat for the Democrats if that Kennedy magic holds.

But as ho-hum games go…

It was “just another game,” the Vancouver Canucks said entering TD Garden in Boston Saturday. Nope, not an issue that the Bruins humiliated them there during the Stanley Cup finals last year, shelling No. 1 goalie Roberto Luongo for 15 goals. This time, Canuck coach Alain Vigneault started backup goalie and Boston boy Cory Schneider, not because Big Lou might melt down (heck, it’s just another game) but because it would be nice for Schneider to play in front of family and friends. Whatever, it worked. Schneider was key in the Canucks’ 4-3 victory, including a nifty glove save on a penalty shot. The game had it all: speed, fury and an ugly low-bridge hit by Bruins pest Brad Marchand that left Canuck Sami Salo with a concussion, and earned the notorious Nova Scotian a five-game suspension. Maybe it’s best this was their only matchup this season, unless they meet in the playoffs. The Canucks might like that. “I don’t think anyone can question our toughness any more,” said the Canucks’ Daniel Sedin.

Mama’s boy

PR wunderkind Alykhan Velshi, the twentysomething Tory staffer and famed mouthpiece for tar sands rebrander was hit with some rare, negative press last week. Questions were raised after Rumina, Velshi’s engineer mother, was appointed to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, a five-year, part-time term. “There are a lot of credible engineers out there, but there’s not a lot whose sons are closely tied to the Prime Minister, Jason Kenney, and their ethical oil campaign for the tar sands,” NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus told Embassy magazine. Velshi, now Stephen Harper’s director of planning, has refused comment.

Raonic serves up a huge win in India

Thornhill, Ont.’s Milos Raonic, 21, credits his 200 km/h serve with powering him to victory in the Chennai Open on Sunday. The ATP Newcomer of the Year for 2011 lived up to his promise, opening his 2012 season by blasting 35 aces in a marathon match to best No. 9-ranked Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia.

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