Royal baggage, Putting the hate in Haiti and Heck of a yard sale

This week’s newsmakers

Britain’s royal family doesn’t travel lightly, but not always by choice. Just look at the swag Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, the duchess of Cornwall, collected on their recent Canadian tour. The list of books, jams, and teapots, recently catalogued on the Prince of Wales’s website, tops out at more than 100 items. It includes his and hers BlackBerries from the premier of Ontario and a bottle of “Victoria gin” from the mayor of Victoria. Meanwhile, Prince William, who visits Australia this week, was asked to help recover the missing skull of Aboriginal warrior Pemulwuy, who was shot dead in 1802 and whose head was sent to England in a glass jar. Elder Michael Mundine says the prince will appreciate the importance of the request because he “has his mother’s heart.”

The manly art of cabinetry
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s larger-than-expected cabinet shuffle Tuesday didn’t advance the thin ranks of women. Lisa Raitt (she of the “sexy” isotope shortage) is bumped from the natural resources portfolio to labour. Rona Ambrose leaves low-profile labour for the giant public works department. Diane Ablonczy becomes minister of state for seniors, going from the equally obscure small business and tourism. Marjory LeBreton remains government leader in the Senate. Expect Harper to give her a Tory majority there to push through his agenda.

Yup, still crazy
Mehmet Ali Agca, 52, the man who shot Pope John Paul II in 1981, emerged from a Turkish prison Monday and checked into a five-star hotel. In typical bizarre fashion he called himself the “Christ eternal,” proclaimed the coming “end of the world,” and angled for a huge book deal to tell his story. Agca has never revealed why he tried to kill the pope, or if he was acting alone.

RUSH LIMBAUGHPutting the hate in Haiti
U.S. President Barack Obama’s rapid response to the earthquake in Haiti won praise from former president George W. Bush, but it isn’t playing well with America’s extreme right. Radio host Rush Limbaugh said Obama is using the crisis to “burnish” his image “in both the light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country.” He also advised against donating to the Red Cross relief fund through a link on the White House website, claiming donors could end up on Obama’s mailing list. Meantime, evangelist and former nominee for the Republican presidential ticket, Pat Robertson, said Haiti suffers because its people made an 18th-century pact with the devil to free themselves from French rule. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs labelled both comments “stupid.”

Fore, and after
Golfer John Daly is a shadow of his former self. The hard-living 44-year-old has lost 116 lb., about the poundage of some women playing the LPGA circuit. Daly credits lap-band surgery, an implanted balloon that constricts the stomach. The results are so striking no one recognized him as he tried to enter a recent party after a pro-am event in Honolulu, where he was serving as host. “If I weighed 300 lb. and had four chins, I’d have no problem getting in,” he said. Fans can share Daly’s attempt to get his life and his game on track. His comeback is the subject of a reality show, Being John Daly, premiering on the Golf Channel in March.

“madonna” and “johnny depp”Almost famous
It was an assignment to cover an Elvis convention that hooked Delta, B.C., photographer Brian Howell on the wacky world of celebrity impersonators. From there, the frequent Maclean’s contributor travelled North America searching out faux Mick Jaggers, Johnny Depps, Marilyn Monroes and a southern-fried Colonel Sanders. His exploration of celebrity obsession resulted in a photo book, Fame Us, and now a portrait exhibition at Vancouver’s Windsor Gallery. One who escaped his notice is Annette Edwards. The 57-year-old British great-grandmother spent $16,000 on surgeries to replicate the look of slinky Jessica from the animated film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. “I just think she’s a very sexy cartoon,” she said.

hiral patel of CANADA’s CRICKET teamGuess who’s a big soccer fan?
It’s been years since predominantly Muslim Egypt fielded a World Cup-qualifying soccer team, and coach Hassan Shehata seeks the glory of a higher power. “Pious behaviour” is essential to selection on his team. “I strive to make sure that those who wear the Egypt jersey are on good terms with God,” says Shehata. Speaking of which, a near miracle played out on the cricket pitch in New Zealand. Canada earned its first ever World Cup cricket win Friday, defeating Zimbabwe at the under-19 World Cup. “This is the start of hopefully a great future for Canadian cricket,” said team captain Rustam Bhatti.

Heck of a yard sale
Disgraced Montreal money manager Earl Jones, 67, pleaded guilty Friday to defrauding his clients of $50 million over 30 years. Both defence and prosecution are recommending an 11-year sentence, although the 67-year-old will likely serve only a fraction of that behind bars. Jones’s clients face a lifetime of poverty. A charitable assistance fund is spending $5,000 a week in temporary assistance to help 50 seniors whose savings were wiped out. They may see a small share of their money after the sale of four properties previously held by the high-living Jones and his wife—and their contents. A long list of possessions from their Dorval condo, including golf clubs, a golf cart and a Rolex watch, are being auctioned off.

JACKIE COLLINSAn offer she didn’t refuse
Jackie Collins, the 72-year-old British author of such steamy novels as Hollywood Wives, knows of what she writes. She told U.S. tabloid The Globe she had a fling with actor Marlon Brando when she was just 15. She was attending a Hollywood party with her older sister, actress Joan Collins, when Brando, then about 29, pitched his woo by proxy. “He sent someone over to say, ‘Marlon thinks you’re great-looking and have a great body and would like to meet you,’ ” Collins said. “We had a very brief but fabulous affair. He was at the height of his fame, and gorgeous.” Brando, who died in 2004, could have faced a Roman Polanski-style world of pain had the affair been made public.

OZZY OSBOURNEDon’t ask me, I’m just the biographer
Rocker Ozzy Osbourne has released I Am Ozzy, his autobiography— or the bits he remembers. As he notes in his introduction: “Other people’s memories of the stuff in this book might not be the same as mine. I ain’t gonna argue with ’em. Over the past 40 years I’ve been loaded on booze, coke, acid, Quaaludes, glue, cough mixture, heroin, Rohypnol, Klon­opin, Vicodin, and too many other heavy-duty substances to list in this footnote . . . I’m not the f–king Encyclopedia Britannica, put it that way. What you read here is what dribbled out of the jelly I call my brain when I asked it for my life story.”

Toy story
Her father’s development of the Frisbee and hula hoop made Elena Marano a wealthy woman, but her ex-husband Peter Marano’s investment in the yo-yo market of London commercial real estate has cost her $8.4 million. Marano is appealing in a British court a settlement requiring her to pay her ex’s real estate losses. He already got an equal share of their $32 million in assets when the 20-year marriage ended in 2007. She claimed her ex’s property portfolio has since rebounded, in a case of “boom, bust and boom again.”

No head games
Just weeks ago Patrice Cormier was the plucky pride of Canada as captain of the national junior team. On Monday, the 19-year-old Rouyn-Noranda Huskies forward was suspended indefinitely by the Quebec hockey league for nailing Mikael Tam of the Quebec Remparts with an elbow to the head. Tam lost teeth, and went into convulsions. It’s the second ugly head-shot in a week to earn a suspension. On Thursday Zach Kassian of the Windsor Spitfires concussed Matt Kennedy of the Barrie Colts.

Jack Benny goes back in the vault
It’s been almost 35 years since the death of comedian Jack Benny, but his international fan club carries on—or tries to. These days, it is spitting mad at CBS. The network had discovered 25 original Benny TV shows long thought lost. The fan club offered to pay to digitize the tapes, which date from the 1950s, and Benny’s family approved the release. But CBS announced it won’t release the prized shows from its archives; there are “issues” blocking their release. Benny received similar shoddy treatment when the network cancelled his show in 1964, says club president Laura Leff. “Sadly, 46 years later, CBS has repeated the sentiment by condemning these shows to permanent silence.” M