Newsmakers: #PopeFrancisFTW

The Pope on Twitter, Kate steps out … and Diana Nyad swims with the sharks

L'Osservatore Romano / AP

When a mayor isn’t a mayor

Michel Lavoie, the mayor of St-Rémi on Montreal’s South Shore, made history last week—though not the kind Quebec politicians are hoping for these days. The politician was relieved of his municipal duties following a historic ruling that invokes a new Quebec law allowing for the suspension of elected officials accused of criminal acts. Taken to court by local citizen Sylvie Boyer, Lavoie—who faces charges of conspiracy, fraud and breach of trust—argued against Bill 10, as it’s known, stating that its wording is too vague and that voters would have a chance to decide his fate for themselves when municipal elections take place Nov. 3. Quebec Superior Court upheld the new law. One of a handful of Quebec mayors arrested by the province’s anti-corruption unit, Lavoie was the only one who didn’t voluntarily step down. Yet the disgraced politician will still keep his title, even if it’s a hollow one: because of the court’s ruling, he can’t actually perform any of the duties associated with the mayor’s job.

Worth the weight

It was supposed to be just Prince William kicking off the Ring O’ Fire, a coastal, 217-km ultra-marathon around the Isle of Anglesey in North Wales, on Aug. 30. But the morning of the event, wife Kate decided to join him, marking her first public appearance since the birth of Prince George about six weeks ago. Expected to be the duke and duchess of Cambridge’s last appearance on Anglesey, where William has been posted the past three years, Kate made a point of coming to thank locals for their “warmth and hospitality,” a source told the Telegraph. Kate proved that even the royals aren’t immune to post-baby weight speculation, though, as tabloids gushed about her svelte appearance, despite the fact that she’s “hardly done anything” to shed pounds, according to US Weekly.

Montreal may see the light

After going through three teams in 18 months, God-fearing quarterback Tim Tebow may want to start praying that another NFL franchise picks him up soon—or else he could be heading to Canada. The polarizing player was released by the New England Patriots last week after a disappointing pre-season, and now several football pundits, including Tebow’s one-time QB guru Steve Clarkson, are predicting Tebow will cut his NFL dreams short and head for the CFL. The Montreal Alouettes own the 26-year-old player’s CFL rights, but general manager Jim Popp dismissed the idea, telling the Toronto Sun that Tebow is “just one of the 35 names” on their list, adding they already have four quarterbacks, including 41-year-old Anthony Calvillo (who’s currently nursing a concussion). Whether or not Montreal will be home to a new era of “Tebowing” is uncertain, but at least the one-time Heisman Trophy winner is keeping positive, telling reporters, “I’m blessed because of my faith, because you don’t have to worry about the future, because I know who holds my future.”


Pope Francis has already made waves because of his down-to-earth footwear and progressive views on homosexuality (at least as far as the Catholic Church is concerned). Now he’s blowing up on Twitter, too. The bishop of Rome recently posed for what may be the first papal “selfie” with a group of visiting youth. While the head of 1.2 billion Catholics didn’t technically take the picture himself, or upload it to the papal Twitter account, @Pontifex, it still went a long way toward cementing his image as a “Pope of the people,” and a particularly cool one at that.

Breaking the bank’s glass ceiling

On Jan. 1, Kathleen Taylor will take the reins at the Royal Bank of Canada, it was announced last week—becoming the first-ever female chair of a big Canadian bank. Women are still sorely underrepresented high in the ranks of business: A 2011 report from the non-profit Catalyst Canada found that only 14.5 per cent of board seats in corporate Canada are held by women, up just 0.5 percentage points from 2009. And women at the top can face more intense scrutiny than their male peers. Take Yahoo!’s Marissa Mayer, whose image appears in a high-fashion spread in September’s Vogue: debate raged about whether her lounging posture, polished outfit and stiletto heels were too flirty or sexy for a CEO, while others countered that photos of Elon Musk or Larry Ellison, for example, wouldn’t garner nearly so much vitriol.

All tied up

After more than a year of speculation, the film adaptation of E.L. James’s erotic blockbuster Fifty Shades of Grey has finally roped in its leads. Charlie Hunnam, best known for his roles in TV’s biker drama Sons of Anarchy and this summer’s monster flick Pacific Rim, will star as the sexually manipulative millionaire Christian Grey, with little-known actress Dakota Johnson taking on the role of the naive and submissive Anastasia Steele. James, who topped Forbes magazine’s list of this year’s highest-earning authors, announced the casting on her Twitter account on the weekend, sending fans into a tizzy. Director Sam Taylor-Johnson’s film, the first of a planned trilogy, is set for release in August 2014.

WikiLeaks wig-out

Julian Assange is quickly turning into the house guest who overstays his welcome. The WikiLeaks founder, who is living in Ecuador’s London Embassy, has been ordered by Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa to stop mocking Australian politicians as part of Assange’s Senate election campaign. “He can campaign politically, but without making fun of Australian politicians. We are not going to allow that,” said Correa, referring to Assange’s bizarre web video in which the 42-year-old dons a mullet wig, performs a cover of Australian musician John Farnham’s 1986 soft-rock hit, You’re the Voice, and ridicules politicians Tony Abbott, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. Assange was granted asylum by Ecuador in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces sex assault allegations.

He can dig it

Fishermen often talk about the biggest trout they ever caught, but do paleontologists brag about the biggest unbroken dinosaur skeleton they dug up? If so, British Columbia’s Richard McCrea can boast to his heart’s content. After five years of digging, he and his team have uncovered the biggest unbroken skeleton in the area’s history, with everything but a head. The skeleton, belonging to a hadrosaur, took such a long time to extract because it was in a difficult location on a B.C. hillside, and McCrea was working with a small budget; he told the Globe and Mail the province didn’t fund the operation much because it doesn’t consider dinosaur-digging “as part of its identity or culture.”

A current affair

The fifth time proved to be the charm for Diana Nyad, as the American became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the aid of a shark cage. What’s more, the endurance swimmer did so at the age of 64. “You’re never too old to chase your dreams,” Nyad said after reaching the Key West shore on Monday, about 53 hours after she began her 177-km swim. Nyad has been attempting the Cuba-to-Florida challenge since 1978, with four previous attempts cut short due to unfavourable currents and jellyfish stings. “If I, three days from now, am still somehow bringing the arms up and I see the shore,” she said before her swim began, “I am going to have a feeling that no one yet on this planet has ever had.”

Dribbling diplomacy

Dennis Rodman isn’t going to let the imprisonment of a Korean-American missionary dampen his second trip to North Korea. “I’m there to just have a good time, sit with [Kim Jong Un], and that’s pretty much it,” the former NBA star said before leaving Beijing for the authoritarian state this week, brushing off speculation he would try to secure the release of Kenneth Bae, a tour operator who was arrested last November and sentenced to 15 years of hard labour. Rodman’s first trip to the country this past February, in which he suggested “basketball diplomacy” could warm relations between Pyongyang and Washington, was slammed by U.S. officials, who labelled the visit a stunt that gave Kim a propaganda boost. Still, the one-time Chicago Bulls star is adamant his latest trip is just a friendly opportunity to talk sports with the “awesome” Kim. “I’ve come out here to see my friend,” said Rodman. “I want to talk about basketball.”

The $139-million man

Real Madrid is famous for doling out big bucks for the world’s top soccer talent, but a record-breaking $139 million paid to Tottenham for Gareth Bale still comes as a surprise. The 24-year-old Welshman will join a lineup featuring the former costliest player in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo.

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