Newsmakers '09: U-Turns

TD Bank, Tom Jones, and Harry Potter

TD Bank recovers from fee-fall
After plans to impose a $35 inactivity fee for lines of credit sparked nationwide outrage, TD Bank got the message. On top of scrapping the inactivity charge, the bank pledged not to implement any new or increased fees on most products this year. At Toronto-Dominion Bank, it seems the customer is right after all.

It’s their party
The last thing sitting politicians need to worry about, says federal Tory party president Don Plett, is duking it out in riding-level nomination fights. After all, holding onto power in a minority government can be stressful. And so, despite razzing the Liberals for the same policy, Conservative MPs will now, for the first time, be granted automatic nominations in the next election.

The natural
Women have yet another reason to throw their panties at Tom Jones. The Sex Bomb singer, 69, has abandoned his signature dark brown hair in favour of a more natural look, a decision he concedes he should have made years ago. “Women love it,” says the silver-haired Jones, who has also vowed to give up plastic surgery.

Okay, Tasers might be trouble
Breaking with past statements, the RCMP recently conceded that Tasers carry “the risk of death, particularly for acutely agitated individuals.” Now when Tasers are deployed, Mounties are advised to steer clear of the suspect’s chest, lest the electricity trigger a cardiac arrest. Apparently, jolting someone with up to 50,000 volts of electricity can, in fact, be dangerous.
Angelina’s dress reversal
Consider it this year’s most literal fashion switch. In a bid for what her stylist called a “more blouson” look, Angelina Jolie wore her Max Azria gown backwards to the Screen Actors Guild Awards. That the plunging neckline happened to highlight her toned, tattooed back was purely coincidental.

Make that a two-child policy

After three decades of imposing a severe one-child-only policy, China is reacting to a new reality: a workforce shortage. To balance out Shanghai’s aging population, men and women who are both only children are encouraged to go forth and multiply—twice.

That $600-million bomb
After a proposal to award $21,000 ($600 million in total) to each of the families of all those killed during the Northern Ireland Troubles—including members of paramilitary groups and even a bomber who died when his device exploded—drew fire from some of the bereaved, Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government rejected it.

Alberta: from riches to rags

Canada’s oil-laden province expects to be among those calling on Ottawa for a handout at the end of this fiscal year. Barring an unforeseen economic miracle, it will be the first time in more than 20 years that Alberta has asked for federal financial aid. Badly wounded by the stock market crash and plummeting energy prices, the once-rich province anticipates it will qualify for $220 million in fiscal stabilization funds.

U.S. military coffins visible once again
Eighteen years after George H. W. Bush banned U.S. media from recording images of military coffins returning from combat, the veil of secrecy has been lifted by the new President: provided the family doesn’t protest, media can once again photograph the homecoming of the country’s war dead.

Vatican sees the good in Harry Potter
A year after charging author J.K. Rowling with creating a story where “witchcraft is proposed as a positive ideal,” the Vatican’s official newspaper appears to have warmed up to Harry Potter. In L’Osservatore Romano’s assessment of Harry Potter and the Half-Blooded Prince, the sixth film adaptation of the bestselling series, the paper proclaimed, “there is a clear line of demarcation between good and evil.”

Wikipedia closes ranks
The Web’s biggest open-knowledge bank isn’t so open anymore. As English-language articles passed the three-million mark, Wikipedia began keeping closer watch of entries on living people, giving a group of trusted editors the power to accept or reject revisions.

From reality TV to White House

Alejandra Campoverdi is a campaign intern who took Barack Obama’s message of change to heart. Before joining his team, Campoverdi, a Harvard grad, chose to put her other assets forward, appearing on the NBC reality show For Love Or Money and posing in Maxim. Her transformation prompted yet another about-face: shortly after she became an assistant to a deputy chief of staff, she was rumoured to be dating Jon Favreau, Obama’s 28-year-old speech writer who had previously bemoaned his singledom.

West Bank wall, schmall: it’s fine as it is
The West Bank wall, which Israel once proclaimed as “essential to keep out attackers,” isn’t so necessary anymore. After years of criticism from the international community over the barrier, which runs in and around the West Bank separating the Palestinian territory from Israel, Yuval Diskin, the head of Israel’s security service, told a parliamentary committee that now there’s “no need to finish” construction.

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