Newsmakers '09: At last . . .

Oprah Winfrey, Apple and others.

Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb
The founders of Livent Inc. were convicted of fraud in Ontario Superior Court. The conviction came 11 years after Livent collapsed and the partners were accused of cooking the books. Their sentencing in August brought an end to a saga that seemed as long as Livent’s Ragtime, though less boring.

Roman Polanski

More than 30 years after he fled the U.S. to escape sentencing for sexual abuse of a 13-year-old girl, Polanski was arrested in Zurich. Many of the director’s industry friends signed a petition protesting the arrest, saying if Polanski is extradited and sentenced, it will “take away his freedom.” Well, yeah, that’s the idea.

Pete Seeger

When the singer-songwriter (Turn, Turn, Turn) performed at a San Diego school in 1960, the school board tried unsuccessfully to cancel the concert after he wouldn’t sign an anti-Communist loyalty oath. This year, the board sent a letter of apology to Seeger for its past Red-baiting. He replied that the controversy helped his career. Even left-wing folk singers need publicity.

Oprah Winfrey

America’s sympathizer-in-chief announced she’s leaving her syndicated daytime show at the end of next year’s season, her 25th. The billionaire isn’t abandoning her millions of loyal followers to the harsh world of cable news. She hopes to take them to her own network, where they can watch Oprah-approved shows around the clock.

Section 13

The so-called hate speech section of the Canadian Human Rights Act allows government to regulate messages of “hatred or contempt.” After many challenges, a tribunal ruled it violates constitutional rights. The ruling doesn’t actually overturn the law, but it’s the thought that counts.

‘Burke’s Peerage’

For 173 years, the venerable volume has told us who’s who in the families of British aristocrats. This year it included out-of-wedlock children for the first time ever. Editor William Bortrick ordered the change to reflect the reality that “many people, even from titled families, do not marry.” This may be the biggest blow to the sanctity of aristocratic marriage since Charles and Diana broke up.

Kelly Marie Ellard

Part of a group that murdered Vancouver teen Reena Virk in 1997, Ellard has been keeping lawyers busy since her 2000 conviction was overturned. (It was followed by a mistrial and another conviction.) This year, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that her last conviction would stand, with no more do-overs.

Philadelphia, Miss.
The confusingly named town, best known as the site of the murder of three civil-rights workers in 1964, elected its first African-American mayor this year. James Young defeated the white incumbent by 46 votes. As with Obama’s election, this presumably proves that racism no longer exists.

Apple Inc.
The U.S.’s biggest music retailer (thanks to iTunes) sold most files with “digital locks” that prevented them from being copied to non-Apple devices. In January Apple announced it would remove the locks. This may be bad news for music producers, since it will encourage piracy. But it’s good news for that pathetic PC from those commercials, who can finally get access to some of the Mac’s tunes on his Zune.

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