Barack Obama’s anguish, Jay Z’s new, less-hyphenated look and Lac-Mégantic gets a little love

Tim de Waele / Corbis; Kathy Willens / AP; John Raoux / AP

Regrets, I have a few

Alberta’s alleged prostitute-loving member of the Legislative Assembly Mike Allen is refusing to step down. Premier Alison Redford has made clear how “shocked” and “disgusted” she was on hearing news of the 51-year-old former Conservative’s arrest while on government business in the U.S. last week, but Allen—who faces up to a year in prison after being arrested propositioning two undercover female police officers—is hanging on to his seat, for now, at least. Though the Fort McMurray MLA accepts “full responsibility” for his actions, he says he wants time to consult with his constituents, and “reflect on the personal circumstances” that led to his unfortunate decision. I want to hold your hand Paul McCartney reached out to survivors of the train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Que., which left at least 42 dead, giving away free tickets to his show in Quebec City. “We want to give them a break—a few hours of happiness that will allow them to not think about this tragedy that they’ve been immersed in for nearly two weeks,” said Daniel Gélinas, chief executive of E3, which is promoting the show. McCartney’s show, part of his “Out There” tour, took over the historic Plains of Abraham in Quebec City on July 23.

Carlos the Jerk

When Anthony Weiner resigned from Congress in 2011 after “sexting” pics of his bulging boxers to women not his wife, it was to save the Democrats further embarrassment. No such luck, then, for his wife, Huma Abedin, who stood beside Weiner, now a candidate for mayor of New York, on July 23 as he once again admitted to sending sexually explicit photos online using the name Carlos Danger. While Weiner was cagey about when the pics, which surfaced on the gossip website The Dirty, were sent, the highlight of the press conference was Abedin’s cringe-worthy statement: “Anthony has made some horrible mistakes,” she said. “I have forgiven him.”

Lean, clean cycling machine

In a way, the 100th edition of the Tour de France is a new beginning for the most famous cycling race in the world. The winner, the Kenyan-born Brit, Chris Froome, has promised to elevate the sport from the humiliation brought on by Lance Armstrong’s years of doping. Froome declared, amid celebrations, that he welcomes the glare of suspicion that comes with victory: “I’m glad that I’ve had to face those questions . . . Hopefully, that’s sent a strong message to the cycling world that the sport has changed—and it really has.”

Ozzy’s teachable moment

The tragic death by heroin and alcohol overdose of Glee star Cory Monteith in Vancouver has caused rock ’n’ roll survivor Ozzy Osbourne to reflect on the evils of drug abuse. “I went through all that stuff and I survived, but you know what? I haven’t got many friends that I used to do [drugs] with that are alive,” the Black Sabbath frontman told WGN-TV in Chicago last week. “I’m living on borrowed time,” he said of his own legendary drug consumption. He admitted that he, like Monteith, relapsed in recent months, “and it nearly destroyed me again.”

Now, ironically, it is ironic

As many an English teacher has lamented, the irony of Canadian songstress Alanis Morissette’s classic hit Ironic is that she had a weak grasp of the concept of irony. She has explained in the past she wasn’t “doggedly making sure that everything was technically ironic.” Or anything, really. Now New York sisters Eliza and Rachael Hurwitz have ridden to the rescue, rewriting the lyrics and producing a music video that stiffens the tune with an essential dose of iron(y). The revised title, It’s Finally Ironic, includes such lines as “An old man turned 98 / he won the lottery / and died the next day / from a paper cut from his lottery ticket.” And: “It’s a death row pardon / that causes your demise / because you leave the jail and get hit by a bus.” Get it? Okay, English class dismissed.

Mom of the year

When Lucy Ann Johnson went missing from her home in Surrey, B.C., in 1961, her little daughter, Linda, was bereft. For reasons unclear, Lucy’s husband Marvin Johnson didn’t report her missing to police until 1965. Police naturally considered him a suspect, even digging up his lawn in a futile search for a body. Marvin died years ago, still a suspect, but daughter Linda Evans, now a mother and grandmother herself, was determined to solve the mystery. Surrey RCMP recently publicized the Johnson story as its oldest cold case, and Linda, knowing her mother was born in Skagway, Alaska, purchased ads in northern papers. This generated a series of emails and a phone call from a woman who also claimed to be Lucy’s daughter. RCMP have confirmed that Lucy, now 77, moved to the Yukon, started a new life and had four more children. “I’m still walking around in shock,” Evans told the Surrey Leader. She’s saving to travel north. “I have a lot of questions, and they’re all ‘whys,’ ” she said. She’ll tell her mother about the five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren she’s never met, and try to put the hurt behind her. “I’ll just give her a big hug and hope the words come easy.”

Obama’s straight talk

U.S. President Barack Obama made his boldest comments of his presidency on race when he declared, during an unscheduled White House briefing last week, that Trayvon Martin—an unarmed black teen killed in Florida last year—“could have been me 35 years ago.” Speaking at length for the first time since George Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of Martin, Obama tried to help white Americans understand why some in the African-American community have reacted with frustration and anger over Zimmerman’s acquittal. “There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me,” he said, adding that “it’s important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.”

Belgium bids adieu to Albert deux

After almost 20 years as Belgium’s royal head of state, an aging and ailing King Albert II abdicated the throne. His son, now called King Philippe, has inherited more than the crown; the growing division between French- and Dutch-speaking factions—which left a divided Belgium without a government for 541 days, ending in 2011—threatens to tear the country apart. In his final remarks, Albert, 79, urged Belgium to remain united and serve as an “inspiration” for Europe. “Time and again, we find the balance between unity and diversity,” said the new king. “Belgium’s strength is precisely that we make room for our differences.”

When Kickstarter works

The first footage promoting the forthcoming Veronica Mars movie has been released, and the trailer is clearly aimed at diehard fans of the now-defunct TV series about a “modern-day Nancy Drew”: “A long time ago, we used to be friends,” the trailer begins, “Then it ended. You’ve waited years. You said you’d even pay for it. It’s finally happening.” More than 91,500 fans have donated a total of $5.7 million through the online crowdsourcing site Kickstarter since March to fund the movie, starring Kristen Bell, which will be released next year. The series’ writer-producer Rob Thomas turned to online fundraising after Warner Bros. refused to make the film.

Et tu, Jay Z?

Jay-Z has retired his hyphen. Though his label only made the announcement this week, it seems the rapper has quietly been Jay Z for some time, but no one noticed. The name went unpunctuated on his website and in the liner notes for 2011’s Watch the Throne, his collaboration with Kanye West. Punctuation is succumbing to the pressures of the Internet age, and it’s not just hip-hop artists: More than 15,000 words, including ice-cream, bumble-bee and cry-baby, lost their hyphens in the latest edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. Even the Brits, guardians of good grammar, have been quietly dropping apostrophes from signage and advertising. For the punctilious among us, fear not: Jay Z’s wife, Beyoncé, remains as committed to her acute accent as the band “Fun.” is to its period, and Maclean’s, of course, to its apostrophe.

International pope sensation

Pope Francis received a rock star’s welcome in Brazil this week, in his first official overseas trip. The Argentinian-born pontiff’s face appeared on T-shirts and posters, and an enormous stage for an open-air mass was built on Copacabana beach. More than a million faithful were expected to attend. Amid the joy, however, police fired rubber bullets at about 300 protesters, injuring four.

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