Newsmakers: July 5-12, 2012 -

Newsmakers: July 5-12, 2012

Steve Nash chooses L.A. over T.O., Putin takes on punk rockers, and Kim Jong Un’s new lady friend


Elder Ordonez/

Canada’s crowning weekend

History was made at Wimbledon this week when Eugenie Bouchard and Filip Peliwo became the first Canadians to win the girls’ and boys’ singles titles, respectively. Montreal-raised Bouchard, 18, went on to clinch the girls’ doubles title with her American partner.

Saying ‘no’ to T.O.

The Toronto Raptors tried to present Steve Nash with an offer he couldn’t refuse: something like $36 million over three years to return to his home and native land as a beloved and patriotic hero. They even recruited Wayne Gretzky to help make the pitch. What the Raptors couldn’t offer was Kobe Bryant (and Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum) and a chance to win, not to mention an opportunity to remain near his three children who live in Phoenix. And so the Canadian point guard signed with the L.A. Lakers for less than $30 million over three years. Heartbroken Raptors fans were forced to find solace in the acquisition of point guard Kyle Lowry, who, while younger than Nash and talented in his own right, is unlikely to qualify for icon status any time soon.

French fling

Tongues have been wagging on both sides of the Atlantic ever since Mary-Kate Olsen started dating Olivier Sarkozy, the much-older half-brother of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy. (The two “couldn’t keep their hands off each other” at a recent gala in Manhattan, gushed the New York Post’s Page Six.) So it was no surprise that gossip writers had a field day with photographs of the couple with Olivier’s young daughter from his previous marriage to author Charlotte Bernard. The sprightly Olsen, 26, looked like she was out walking with her sister—not her boyfriend’s daughter.

Don’t mess with Putin

Three jailed members of the all-female Russian punk band Pussy Riot launched a hunger strike last week after a Russian court gave their lawyers just days to finish reviewing the case against them. The trio—Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alekhina—were arrested this spring after band members dressed in miniskirts and pink-and-purple balaclavas stormed a Moscow cathedral to play a protest prayer about Vladimir Putin: “Virgin Mary, Mother of God, help us and chase Putin away.” The three young women, all in their twenties—two of them mothers of young children—face up to seven years in prison for “hooliganism.”

Ryder stalled

Canada’s Ryder Hesjedal, who was left bruised and bloodied after a terrible crash, was forced to withdraw from the Tour de France last week. Hesjedal, who finished sixth in the race two years ago, seemed well-positioned at cycling’s most famous race after winning the Giro d’Italia this spring. But the massive spill, involving two dozen riders, left him with serious injuries to his left hip and leg, and 13 minutes behind the leader. He’s looking to recover in time for London. “I’ll go home, keep working with the medical staff on my recovery, and refocus everything on the Olympics,” he said.

Exiting hip hop’s closet

After Barack Obama’s statement of support for gay marriage, rappers Jay-Z and 50 Cent followed suit, and now the macho, often homophobic world of hip hop has a rising star who has admitted to being in love with another man. In an online post last week, singer Frank Ocean acknowledged that his first love was a man. “I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore,” he wrote. In his own post, legendary hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons saluted Ocean’s bravery. “Today is a big day for hip hop. It is a day that will define who we really are,” he wrote. “How compassionate will we be? How loving can we be? How inclusive are we?”

Tattoo typo

In this hurried age of text messages and Twitter, spelling mistakes are so common that they’re no longer remarkable. Except, perhaps, when the mistake is tattooed in large black letters across your body. Nova Scotia’s Marie Huckle intended to have “See you at the crossroads” tattooed to her side in tribute to a deceased friend. Instead, she got “See you at the cossroads.” After the tattoo parlour failed to sufficiently provide to fix the mistake, Huckle sued and was recently awarded nearly $9,000 to pay for removal, treatment and other fees. “I accept that when working on a living canvas, such as someone’s skin, the results may not be exactly as hoped for,” the judge explained. “However, a spelling mistake is clearly a breach of that duty of care.”

It’s never too late to quit

It is troubling enough to see a 15-year-old addicted to cigarettes. But it is particularly sad when the teenager in question is an orangutan. Tori, a primate in an Indonesian zoo, took up the habit after getting hold of cigarette butts dropped into her cage by visitors. She now becomes agitated when not provided with a regular smoke. Zoo officials are planning to move Tori to a new enclosure with amenities intended to distract her from the habit, but an official with the Centre for Orangutan Protection in Borneo told the Guardian that many of the country’s captive orangutans are smokers, introduced to nicotine by spectators who enjoy the sight of a primate puffing away.

It’s mine

Bolivian President Evo Morales is threatening to nationalize a mining property belonging to Canada’s South American Silver Corp. The Malku Khota development has been subject to indigenous protests, and farmers recently took five mine employees hostage. It’s hardly an empty threat. Last month, Bolivia’s leftist government took over a Swiss-owned tin and zinc mine, and Morales previously nationalized electricity and natural gas services.

Indebted, unwanted

The latest Liberal leadership race seems likely to begin with several candidates from the last race still trying to pay off their campaign debts. An Ontario court has rejected requests from Hedy Fry, Martha Hall Findlay and Joe Volpe for more time to repay their 2006 leadership debts. It is now for Elections Canada to decide what to do with the three former candidates (penalties could include a $1,000 fine or up to three months in jail). The cash-strapped Liberals have been hampered by a change in fundraising rules, but the lingering debts reflect badly on a party trying to shake off its recent history and move forward with confidence (not to mention financial security). More problematic, Hall Findlay is thought to be considering another leadership run. Can a candidate mount a credible run while still trying to pay for the last one?

It’s a small world after all

Kim Jong Un, the Hermit Kingdom’s most eligible bachelor, seems to be enjoying the high life. A beautiful mystery woman—said by one report to be a newly divorced former pop star—was spotted at Kim’s side this week. Last week, the pair took in a deeply strange concert featuring Mickey Mouse and other random Disney characters frolicking happily for clapping North Korean officials. A report out of South Korea suggests the twentysomething dictator and Hyon Song Wol—who made it big with the North Korean chart-topper Excellent Horse-Like Lady—were involved several years ago, but that Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, objected to the match.

Hitler’s list

New documentation unearthed by the Jewish Voice, a German newspaper, suggests Adolf Hitler might have personally intervened to briefly protect Ernst Hess, who had been Hitler’s commanding officer during the First World War. “As per the Führer’s wishes,” Hess was “not to be inopportuned in any way whatsoever,” Heinrich Himmler, the infamous Nazi commander, wrote in a recently unearthed letter. Unfortunately, the protection order was revoked in 1941 and Hess was deported to a concentration camp near Munich and later assigned to forced labour.

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