Kelly Clarkson’s slapped hand, a billionaire wedding and Paul Bernardo’s bid for medium security


Jean-Bernard Caron/Royal Ontario Museum

The Queen’s speech

Of the thousands of speeches written by and for Queen Elizabeth II, there’s one, thankfully, she’s never had to deliver. It was prepared by civil servants in 1983 in the event of nuclear war. While it was part of an extensive war game, it illustrates that the world still lingered in the chilling shadow of the Cold War. In the speech, she recalls the “sorrow and pride” she and her sister Margaret felt listening to the wireless as their father, King George VI, rallied the nation at the advent of the Second World War. “Not for a single moment did I image that this solemn and awful duty would one day fall to me,” says the speech, which was declassified after 30 years. “The enemy is not the soldier with his rifle, nor even the airman prowling the skies above our cities and towns, but the deadly power of abused technology.” The royal advice: “Give comfort to the lonely and the homeless and let your family become the focus of hope and life to those who need it.”

Roll out the red carpet

The youngest MP in the House of Commons tied the knot over the August long weekend in Sherbrooke, Que. NDP MP Pierre-Luc Dusseault, who was just 19 when he was elected in 2011, wed his girlfriend of five years, Joanie Boulet. Dusseault, who represents the riding of Sherbrooke, was studying politics at the Université de Sherbrooke when he was elected during the NDP’s sweep of much of Quebec. He became the youngest person ever elected to Parliament. A friend of the couple told La Tribune that Dusseault’s surprise election was difficult for the couple, but it ultimately made the pair stronger. “It was an ordeal for [them], but they’re a lot closer,” said a friend who used to work with Boulet. “They saw each other little, Pierre-Luc worked hard, but in the end, they’re a couple together.”

Pride and prejudice, indeed

A little-known fact about superstar singer Kelly Clarkson, who shot to fame after winning American Idol: She’s a big Jane Austen fan. At an auction last year, Clarkson anonymously bought a gold-and-turquoise ring that once belonged to the 19th-century British novelist, paying more than $237,000. Now, the pop star’s been banned from taking the ring out of Britain—on the grounds that it’s just too valuable a part of the country’s literary history. “Jane Austen’s modest lifestyle and her early death mean that objects associated with her of any kind are extremely rare,” said Culture Minister Ed Vaizey. “I hope that a U.K. buyer comes forward so this simple but elegant ring can be saved for the nation.” A decision on the export licence has been put off to Sept. 30. Until then, Clarkson could feed her love of Austen as the rest of us do: by watching the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice miniseries, starring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy.

It’s kind of ugly, but it’s ours

Meet Hallucigenia sparsa, a walking worm who’s been a puzzlement since his headless fossil was first found a century ago in the renowned Burgess Shale deposit in B.C.’s Rocky Mountains. No longer. “It really looks like something that you would see if you were hallucinating, or if you were having a nightmare,” Omar McDadi of Parks Canada, told the Canadian Press. It’s just 14 mm long, with dorsal tentacles and spikes the length of its body. Scientists weren’t even sure which side was up until researchers from the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and the universities of Toronto and Cambridge released details of its family tree in an article in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B (biological sciences). They determined it’s from a group of lobopods and it lived underwater in Canada 505 million years ago, back when the mass that is Canada was located near the equator. More answers may be forthcoming, said Jean-Bernard Caron, curator of invertebrate paleontology at the ROM. “We need to find the head.”

Just leave your tux at home

While it’s not uncommon for couples to request specific attire of their wedding parties, Napster co-founder Sean Parker and his bride, singer-songwriter Alexandra Lenas, two big fans of Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, took it to another level. At their wedding in Big Sur, Calif., the Facebook billionaire—who was portrayed by Justin Timberlake in the 2010 film The Social Network—hired Lord of the Rings costume designer Ngila Dickson to outfit all 364 of his guests, including Olivia Munn, Sean Lennon and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey. The wooded wedding venue alone cost Parker $4.5 million: “Set designers had constructed faux bridges, a ruined stone castle, a 10-foot Celtic cross, and two broken Roman columns that straddled the altar beneath the largest tree in the grove. A pen of bunnies was nearby for anyone who needed a cuddle,” according to an exclusive report in September’s Vanity Fair.

Would you like fake fries with that?

As Canadians were blissfully grilling steaks over the long weekend, Dr. Mark Post—a professor at Maastricht University in the Netherlands—showed the world a new kind of meat: a hamburger grown in the lab from cow stem cells. Reportedly backed by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who contributed $414,000 to the project, Post has been tweaking his “recipe” since 2006, developing a way to extract cow stem cells and cause them to proliferate, forming tiny tendons and, eventually, edible meat. The burger comes out a “whitish-pinkish colour,” Post told Maclean’s in 2012; this year’s sample was mixed with salt, egg powder and breadcrumbs, and reddened with beet juice. It’s certainly the most expensive and labour-intensive hamburger in history, but it could also save the world. Livestock production already takes up 30 per cent of the land surface on our planet, according to a United Nations report. Perhaps that will make up for the fact that early reviews were mixed. “It’s close to meat,” said food researcher Hanni Rützler, who gave it a try.

Hobbies include: Being awesome

Finally, we know what Prince William and Kate Middleton do all day. On Aug. 2, they formally registered the birth of their son, listing their occupations as prince and princess of the United Kingdom. Instead of signing the document at a register office, as new parents would typically do, William and Kate were visited at Kensington Palace by Westminster city council registrar Alison Cathcart, who also presided over the marriages of Sylvester Stallone and Joan Collins, according to the U.K.’s Daily Mirror. His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge—the little prince’s full name—was born on July 22 at St. Mary’s Hospital in London. The birth certificate lists his father as His Royal Highness Prince William Arthur Philip Louis Duke of Cambridge; his mother is Catherine Elizabeth Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cambridge. Their “usual address” is Kensington Palace.

A solitary man

For the past 18 years, notorious schoolgirl killer Paul Bernardo has lived 23 hours a day in a 1.5-by-3-metre solitary confinement cell at the maximum-security Kingston Penitentiary. He’s let out an hour a day to exercise or watch TV. With the institution closing this fall, there are reports that Bernardo, now 48, has asked to transfer to a medium-security prison. Don’t expect that to happen, Toronto lawyer Richard Shekter told Canada AM. There is zero public sympathy for Bernardo, who was sentenced to two life terms in 1995 for the murders of students from St. Catharines, Ont., Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French. Moreover, he’d be a target in the general prison population. “Baby killers or child molesters, people who are despised within the pecking order of these institutions, are not safe,” Shekter said. Federal Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said he’s been assured a transfer is unlikely. Meantime, Karla Homolka, his ex-wife and partner in crime, has three children and lives in Guadeloupe as Leanne Bordelais, after cutting a plea deal and serving a lighter sentence.

Same name, different ending

With a name like Amelia Rose Earhart, perhaps it was inevitable that the Denver TV weather and traffic anchor would take up flying. Now she plans to follow in the slipstream of her very distant relative, the renowned aviatrix Amelia Earhart, who vanished over the Pacific Ocean on July 2, 1937, with her co-pilot Fred Noonan, during an attempted around-the-world flight. Instead of a Lougheed Electra, the new-generation Earhart will be at the controls of a $4.6-million PC-12 NG produced by Pilatus Aircraft of Colorado. Her co-pilot for the 47,000-km journey is Patrick Carter, an Arkansas adventurer and test pilot. They expect to make the journey next summer over two weeks and 100 hours of flight time. “Amelia Earhart said adventure is worthwhile in itself,” her namesake told USA Today.

A-Rod on A-Roids

Major League Baseball suspended 13 players on Monday, including New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, for links to performance-enhancing drugs. Rodriguez’s 211-game suspension would last until the end of the 2014 season, but he can continue playing until his appeal is heard. That night in Chicago, fans chanted “Steroids! Steroids!” every time he came up to bat.

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