Newsmakers: Mar. 16-22, 2012

Justin Trudeau’s crackberry rage, Kate’s first royal speech, the cost of keeping Jennifer Aniston fresh


Photo by Kevin Winter/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

iRate Trudeau

Is Montreal MP Justin Trudeau about to defect from his BlackBerry to an iPhone? He recently thumbed an angry tweet: “OK, now I officially hate this BlackBerry. Stupid, ineffective touch screen mislaunching tweets . . . ” His tweet bleat was picked up by Huffington Post Canada under the headline “Trudeau: BlackBerry sucks. It just sucks.” An enraged Trudeau accused HuffPost of a “blatant lie” for the suggestion. “I never ever said that,” he tweeted of the beleaguered tech giant’s alleged suckiness. “Mad at my phone, yes. Mad at RIM, no.”

The cost of beauty

True, actress Jennifer Aniston has the fresh beauty of a girl next door. But it is an expensive door. The Daily Mail, in, one hopes, an unrivalled feat of investigative journalism, has unearthed the guesstimated costs of keeping the 43-year-old star glowy, youthful and vigorous. Estimated monthly costs: skin care, $2,000, including lashings of ointments and rejuvenating serums, facials and laser peel surgery. Private yoga sessions with trainer Mandy Ingber: $3,500. Consultations and food delivery by dietitian Carrie Watt: $2,700. Grand total: $8,000 per month.

A reality show we can live without

In China’s Henan Province, millions of TV viewers called reporter Ding Yu “Beauty with the beasts.” For five years, until the state broadcaster cancelled the show this month, she was star of the weekly Interviews Before Execution, which was exactly that. With some 55 crimes there carrying the death penalty, there were no shortage of criminals willing to offer their final thoughts. “I don’t sympathize with them,” she told a BBC documentary. “They should pay a heavy price for their wrongdoing. They deserve it.” Most of her interviews were conducted in a gentle tone. But she told one unrepentant killer, “I’m glad you got caught. You are a scumbag.” Ding admitted the job took a toll: “I have too much garbage in my heart.”

Takes one to know one

The trouble with the French, says actor Gérard Depardieu—who is, well, French—is that they’re arrogant. He’s speaking in both generalities and in the specific case of ex-International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Depardieu will hold his considerable nose to play the role of the disgraced banker in a biopic. Strauss-Kahn was acquitted of sexually assaulting a New York chambermaid only to face a flurry of sex-related allegations upon his return to France. “I don’t much like the French in any case,” said Depardieu of DSK. “And he’s very French: arrogant, smug. He’s playable. I will do it because I don’t like him,” he told a Swiss TV interviewer. Depardieu is not without stain. He was ejected from a flight in France last August after urinating in the aisle. Prostate problems, he later explained.

Free at last

The conditions of their release may be under dispute, but their joy at being freed, finally, from Talib clutches is not. Captivity has “marked us for our lifetimes,” David Och, 32, and Daniela Widmer, 29, said in a statement. Conflicting accounts claim the Swiss pair, both police-trained, either escaped or were released in exchange for a ransom, as the Taliban claims. They’d been travelling from India to Switzerland by car in July when they were seized by the Taliban in Baluchistan, in southwest Pakistan. “Switzerland does not pay ransoms, and Switzerland did not pay a ransom,” said Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter.

Hey bud, the eyes are up here

Danielle Smith, leader of Alberta’s Wildrose party, proudly unveiled her new campaign bus in Edmonton this week. Then the laughter started. The placement of her giant photo over the bus’s two rear wheels made her look like a comic book warrior princess encased in a steel-belted radial brassiere. “Wheely bad photo placement,” opined the Calgary Herald. “Legislature or bust?” asked CTV. Party insiders insist the bus wrap was vetted, and no one noticed the blunder. “To be honest, it was missed in the reviews,” said party candidate Shannon Stubbs. There was a cleavage among political commentators: a sign of party inexperience, or a minor gaffe distracting from serious issues? Veteran columnist Don Braid sympathized with stressed party workers who “literally obsess over every detail for days, then step onto a stage without their pants.” Smith laughed it off, tweeting: “Glad to see everyone is so interested in our bus. :)” Meantime, the bus is in the shop having her portrait moved to a safer location. Not over the headlights, one hopes.

Spider’s web of woe and worry

As if Bowen Island, B.C., author Spider Robinson doesn’t have enough worries, he’s fighting to save 100,000 items the CBC plans to purge from the musical archives of its regional stations. The broadcaster is digitizing its vinyl and tape and disposing of anything duplicated in the main Toronto archives. The act is “a self-inflicted cultural lobotomy,” Robinson wrote in a message urging people to sign an online petition. “It’s our national iPod and we spent a bundle of money and decades of hard work to load it. Don’t let some imbecile erase it.” Fear and loss are all too constant in his life. His wife, Jeanne, died of cancer in 2010. Now his 37-year-old daughter Terri is battling stage four breast cancer, and blogging about it at Robinson is appealing on his website for donations as Terri and her husband live in the U.S. Medical bills are bleeding them dry.

Peyton’s choice

Denver appears to have closed the door on Tebowmania. Football god Peyton Manning, the longtime Indianapolis quarterback, signed with the city’s beloved Broncos this week. The deal, said to be worth $95 million over five years, surely makes redundant the job of current QB Tim Tebow, whose unorthodox playing style was to Manning’s like day is to night. A whole different mania is set to sweep the mile-high city as it welcomes Manning, one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

Iranian fallout

Four Manitoba native leaders have a budding bromance with Iran’s repressive government. Terry Nelson, former chief of the Roseau River First Nation, wrote a letter in February to the Iranian government asking it to condemn Canada’s treatment of Aboriginal people. Within weeks, Nelson and former Sioux Valley Chief Ken Whitecloud, and chiefs Frank Brown of Canupawakpa and Orville Smoke of Dakota Plains Wahpeton, met with the head of mission at the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa. Kambiz Sheikh-Hassani confirmed to the Winnipeg Sun that the delegates outlined their complaints of “injustice.” “We listened to their views while emphasizing our respect” for Canada’s sovereignty. Ruth Klein, national director of B’nai Brith Canada, called the stunt “absurd.” With Iran’s “abysmal” rights record,” she said, “nobody really can take this seriously.”

Prying open China’s economy

Fresh off approving the European Union’s $37-billion bailout for Greece, Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, turned her attention to China. She told an economic conference in Beijing that China is too dependent on exports and investment. She prescribed market-oriented economic and currency reforms and the need to boost household incomes. Then, she said, China can fulfil its ambition to make the yuan, like the U.S. dollar, a global reserve currency, “on par with China’s economic status.” China’s vice-premier Li Keqiang said such sweeping reforms are under way. Change, he said, “cannot be delayed.” Attention, conspiracy buffs

Successive U.S. administrations hatched many failed plots to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro. But did Castro help kill U.S. president John F. Kennedy? A new book, Castro’s Secrets: The CIA and Cuba’s Intelligence Machine, by former CIA analyst Brian Latell, suggests Castro knew that Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was gunning for the president in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. Cuban radio monitors were ordered that day to focus exclusively on “any little detail” from Texas. Three hours later, a stunned officer heard of Kennedy’s death. “Castro knew,” the officer admitted during a debriefing after defecting to the U.S. Latell said he can’t prove Oswald was under Castro’s orders, but the evidence shows he knew of Oswald’s plan. “He knew Kennedy was gunning for him. In Fidel’s mind, he was probably acting in self-defence,” he told the Miami Herald.

 Sun, with scattered unicorns

It’s blue skies for TV weatherman Albert Ramon from KVUE in Austin, Texas. His school visit made a big impression on a fourth grader named Flint. “You are more awesome than a monkey wearing a tuxedo made out of bacon riding a cyborg unicorn with a light saber for the horn on the tip of a space shuttle closing in on Mars, when ingulfed [sic] in flames,” Flint wrote. His pencilled note, complete with a drawing of a unicorn delivering a doughnut to Ramon, went viral when Ramon posted it on his Facebook page.

She speaks!

Catherine, duchess of Cambridge chose a children’s hospice in Ipswich, England, for her first public speech as a member of the royal family. She relied on notes for the short, sweet address. She called the centre “inspirational,” and met privately with the family of a terminally ill little boy.