Newsmakers this week

Rihanna offends Muslims, a clothing line for chickens and Georges Laraque steps down

Instagram / AP

At least she wore a headscarf

When you’re a mono-named pop star, most doors swing open with much bowing and scraping. Not so for Rihanna, when she tried to turn a visit to the famous Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre in Abu Dhabi into a fashion shoot. The singer, who was in the capital of the United Arab Emirates for a weekend concert, had arrived unannounced at a mosque entrance “that was not designated for visitors,” mosque administrators said in a statement. She was directed to a public entrance “to carry out a visit under the normal conditions,” the BBC reported. Normal, for the 25-year-old, included posing for a series of photos, including one in a black pantsuit and headscarf, and another splayed on her back in the mosque’s courtyard. The photos were deemed “inappropriate” and she was asked to leave.

A flood of votes

There once was a time when Naheed Nenshi was the underdog. Not anymore. In his bid for re-election, after proving he could handle duties ranging from the Alberta flood crisis to Twitter fights with Sun Media pundits, the charming Calgary mayor won with a resounding 74 per cent of the vote. Nenshi’s youthful charisma may be rubbing off on Edmontonians, too, as Alberta’s capital voted in 34-year-old Don Iveson as their new mayor.

Kids, don’t try this at home

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Toby Sheldon has taken it to creepy new levels. The 33-year-old Los Angeles-based “songwriter” has spent five years, and almost $100,000, to turn his face into a copy of Justin Bieber. Why? Because he’s a really big fan of the teen star, and because he admits to a fear of aging. So, there have been multiple surgeries, hair transplants and Aquamid injections to plump up parts of his face. “I already had similar traits to Justin, like my bone structure and eye shape,” he told the British tabloid Closer. “I just wanted to enhance certain features to look more like him.” This included eyelid surgery that prevented him from opening his eyes for a week. And this July, he had the sides of his mouth extended, a surgery that cost $15,000 and a month of recovery. “It’s Justin’s smile that gives him his youthful look,” he said. Well, perhaps, Sheldon. That, and the fact that he is 19.

Remove before making soup

Why did the chicken cross the road? Because she looks so sporty doing so in her cute, $18 fluorescent bib. The “High Vis Chicken Jacket” is the latest creation of Omlet, the British company that builds fancy chicken coops for domestic chicken lovers. Company director Johannes Paul said the product was developed as a result of consumer demand. “Most people who have chickens as pets will have them out and about, and we do hear about chickens who do cross the road,” he told the Telegraph. “If you imagine you are in a built-up area and your chickens gets under the fence, they don’t care if there is a road there. They just go straight across it.” Jane Howorth, founder of the British Hen Welfare Trust, called the product “one of the more sensible things to make it on the market.” She hopes it stops owners dressing their birds in knitted sweaters, which can become entangled.

A tough hit

The Green party is losing its enforcer. Georges Laraque, a vegan animal rights activist and former NHL star, is stepping down as deputy leader and dropping out of the Bourassa by-election to focus on clearing his name from fraud charges. Laraque told media the charges stem from two transactions worth a total of $120,000 in a dispute with a former business partner for a synthetic-ice company. “I find it bizarre to hear that I’m being accused of fraud by an associate who didn’t put a single penny into the company,” Laraque told the Canadian Press. Green Leader Elizabeth May says she hopes the former Montreal Canadiens tough guy returns to politics after clearing his name. Laraque is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 19.

Plus, one less remote to lose

There are heart attacks and then there are heart attacks. It was the latter risk that caused former vice-president Dick Cheney to have his implanted, wireless heart defibrillator modified so it couldn’t be hacked by terrorists. Cheney’s cardiologist, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, had the wireless feature deactivated when he replaced Cheney’s device in 2007. “It seemed to me to be a bad idea for the vice-president of the United States to have a device that maybe somebody might be able to get into, hack into,” Reiner told CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta during a joint interview with 72-year-old Cheney. The two were plugging a book they co-wrote, Heart: An American Medical Odyssey, on advances in research and the five heart attacks and multiple problems Cheney has survived since he was 37. He had a heart transplant last year and says his return to health is “nothing short of magical.”

Family trust fund

Peter Edwards knew his grandson had talent when he spotted the toddler chase after a soccer ball on his hands and knees. He went to a local betting firm, getting 2,500-to-1 odds on his $83 wager that little Harry Wilson would one day play for the Welsh national team. Thirteen years later, the 62-year-old electrical contractor watched his grandson on the bench when Wales played Belgium. “I told my manager yesterday that, if Harry plays, I wouldn’t be coming back,” Edwards told the Guardian, hoping for a $207,500 payout. And upon seeing Harry substituted in with only a few minutes left to play, “I retired immediately,” Edwards said.

Key to freedom

After eight months under rebel captivity in Syria, Carl Campeau’s escape was simpler than anyone could expect: His captors forgot to lock the door to his room. Campeau, a Canadian working as a legal adviser for the United Nations, was held for ransom after going missing in February near the Syrian-Israeli border. He was reportedly in good health when the Syrian government turned him over to UN representatives in Damascus.

50 shades of trouble

As the story goes, there’s nothing like a bit of pain to heighten the pleasure, but, really, haven’t the producers of the movie version of Fifty Shades of Grey suffered enough? With filming of the racy S&M-themed movie set to start on Nov. 13 at Vancouver’s North Shore Studios, the directors are scrambling to cast a new leading man to play Christian Grey, the spankable, bankable billionaire protagonist. Actor Charlie Hunnam, 33, dumped the role in mid-October, citing scheduling conflicts with his Sons of Anarchy TV role and, some suspect, an aversion to being typecast. The Hollywood Reporter says two actors, Billy Magnussen, 28, a Tony-nominated American, and Jamie Dornan, 31, a star of the British TV series The Fall, both completed screen tests on Friday. Pity poor Dakota Johnson, who plays the naive Anastasia Steele. She’ll have mere days to get uncomfortable with her new co-star.

Worth a thousand words

Vancouver photographer Thom Hamilton was going through 1,200 pictures of the trip of a lifetime: Singapore, Norway, Denmark, Holland, France, P.E.I., Toronto and Vancouver. The only problem was, the photos didn’t belong to him. He found a memory card on a sidewalk in Vancouver’s Stanley Park and made it his goal to find the rightful owner. He noticed the man wearing a T-shirt for an Australian festival, so he convinced a reporter in Perth to run a story about his search. The tips came pouring in, and pretty soon, he heard from Maree and Jock Lindberg, two farmers in Western Australia. The couple were on a world tour, but figured the photos were gone forever after their camera bag was stolen in Vancover. “It’s a little bit mind-blowing that there are almost seven billion people on the Earth; they could have been from anywhere and, within 10 days, by the start of a Facebook page, this all fell into place,” Hamilton told CTV.

Cute, but is it art or vandalism?

Mysterious British graffiti artist Banksy has earned the ire of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg during his prolific one-month “residency” in the city. Defacing other people’s property isn’t art, “it’s a sign of decay,” says the mayor.