Newsmakers: May 5-12, 2011

Donald Trump gets sued, Rita Chretien is found alive, and Don Cherry is angry about something again
Newsmakers: May 5-12, 2011
EMPICS Entertainment/Keystone Press

Compassion for bin Laden

Angela Merkel’s remark that she was “glad” Osama bin Laden had been killed sparked a firestorm of controversy in Germany. Hamburg judge Heinz Uthmann even filed a criminal complaint, alleging the German chancellor broke a law barring the “rewarding and approving of crimes”—in this case, bin Laden’s “homicide.” Politicians denounced her, and 64 per cent of Germans agreed: bin Laden’s death was “no reason to rejoice.” In L.A., however, even the Dalai Lama—compassion incarnate—said he had it coming. “If something is serious and it is necessary to take counter-measures, you have to take counter-measures,” said the Tibetan spiritual leader.

Mother’s day miracle

After 49 days alone in a Chevy Astro van on a logging road in remote Nevada, Rita Chretien was found barely conscious, but clinging to life. The 56-year-old Penticton, B.C., native and her husband, Albert, were stranded en route to Las Vegas on March 19; Albert, who left two days later to find help, hasn’t been seen since. Rita’s faith, and a bit of trail mix, was all that kept her going until finally she was spotted by hunters on ATVs. “We were praying for a miracle and, boy, did we get one,” her son Raymond told reporters Sunday.

Acting his age

Colin Firth hasn’t entirely lost the stammer he developed for The King’s Speech—in fact, the more he thinks of it, “the worse it gets,” Firth, who won the Best Actor Oscar for the role, told the London magazine WestSide. Speaking of life imitating art, Justin Bieber, who played a troubled teen on CSI, was a bit of a “brat” off-screen too, his CSI co-star Marg Helgenberger revealed: “He locked one of the producers in a closet. And he put his fist through a cake.” Bieber fired back on Twitter, calling her comments “kinda lame.” “Dont spread gossip and dont spread rumors about others…im a kid and i know that. #respect.”

Safe landings

Former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff is returning to the classroom—“the only damn thing that’s any use to anybody,” he said, after being named a senior resident at the University of Toronto’s Massey College. And with the governator business behind him, Arnold Schwarzenegger can return to his old job, too. The former California governor has signed on for three movies; in Cry Macho, a drama set to earn him US$12.5 million, he’ll play a down-on-his-luck horse trainer, strong-armed into kidnapping a boy.

A bang, not a whimper

As if losing his Vancouver seat wasn’t humiliation enough, defeated Liberal Ujjal Dosanjh is also being sued for libel by Ripudaman Singh Malik; Malik, who was found not guilty of murder in the Air India bombing, funds a local Khalsa school and endorsed his rival, Conservative Wai Young. But the former B.C. premier who, in the ’80s, was beaten almost to death by Sikh extremists, says the case is actually a positive. At trial, Malik was “able to hide behind the right to remain silent,” Dosanjh told the Vancouver Sun. In a civil case, he’ll have to take the stand, providing “an opportunity criminal prosecutors never had to ask questions of him.” It also emerged this week that Glenn Pearson, another outgoing Liberal star, was forced to dip into his kids’ education fund to repay the House of Commons $25,000 for the misdeeds of a former staffer who’d forged his signature on a series of hospitality bills. Yet none of it has dampened Pearson’s spirits. “I am free at last,” he blogged, after conceding to Tory Susan Truppe—“back to the food bank, my Africa works, wife, children and friends.”

Better late than never

Bryan Adams has broken new ground: fatherhood. At 51, the Summer of ’69 singer welcomed his first child, Mirabella Bunny, with his girlfriend and personal assistant, Alicia Grimaldi. “She arrived like all good Easter bunnies on Easter Friday,” said Adams, helpfully explaining his daughter’s curious name. Speaking of aging rockers, Paul McCartney announced his engagement to his girlfriend of four years, Manhattanite Nancy Shevell, marking the third marriage for the 68-year-old ex-Beatle.

Safe passage

Eman al-Obeidy, the Libyan law student raped by Moammar Gadhafi’s goons, has fled the country, fearing for her life. Al-Obeidy, who in March burst into a Tripoli hotel to tell reporters her story, hid under a head cover last week, and entered Tunisia at a rebel-held border crossing with the help of a defecting soldier. There, she was met by European diplomats and driven to Tunis, where she was granted sanctuary. “I still do not know what I am going to do,” she told CNN.

The Internet is forever

Sarah Burton, who created Kate Middleton’s show-stopping wedding dress, has finally broken her silence. She “kind of blew it,” Burton admits, when cameras caught her ducking into the Goring Hotel in a fur hood from her last collection. She and Kate—who, this week, left for a two-week Seychelles honeymoon with William—collaborated “50-50” on the design, she said, adding that the princess is “one of the most lovely women” she has ever met and “really low maintenance.” Kate’s naughty siblings are, however, proving rather high maintenance. Raunchy photos of sister Pippa—dubbed “Her Royal Hotness” by U.K. tabloids—grinding in a lavender bra surfaced just after those of her hunky brother James hit the Web, in a variety of poses in which he moons the camera, appears fully nude (with only his legs crossed for cover), and has his hand stuffed down his pants.

The kangaroo can stay

City council in the Oklahoma town of Broken Arrow voted unanimously this week to create an “exotic animal ordinance exception” to allow Christie Carr, who suffers from major depression, to keep Irwin, her partially paralyzed kangaroo. An anonymous donor provided the $50,000 liability insurance policy the new law requires. Carr says caring for Irwin helps ease her depression. “My life centres around him,” she added. “Irwin has brought me out of my shell.”

The wrath of Grapes

Don Cherry and the NHL are seeing red over Vancouver’s Green Men. The pair, known as Sully and Force, don neon-green spandex body suits, and haunt the opposition penalty box at Rogers Arena—occasionally with props. During the Canucks’ recent series against Nashville, they taunted Mike Fisher with a cardboard cut-out of his wife, country singer Carrie Underwood, dressed, no less, in a Vancouver jersey. Grapes told them to “smarten up,” and the league barred them from touching the glass (and thus performing their signature handstands). But they’ve become media darlings, fuddy duddies at Hockey Night In Canada nothwithstanding. U.S. sports shows like ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption and the Jim Rome Show and newspapers from coast to coast have all featured their plight. Even Fisher, who burst out laughing when he caught the pesky duo stroking his cardboard wife’s blond hair, seemed none too bothered. In fact, he was “going to give her a kiss,” he said after game five last week, but figured “it was too serious a game.”

Too sexy for the Situation Room

In the now-iconic Situation Room photograph shot in the White House during the raid on bin Laden’s compound, two figures stand out: Barack Obama, hunched in concentration, his hawk eyes fixed firmly ahead, and Hillary Clinton, her hand cupping her mouth, as if stifling a gasp. But Clinton brushed off the idea that emotion might be to blame. “I am somewhat sheepishly concerned that it was my preventing one of my early spring allergic coughs,” she told reporters. “So it may have no great meaning whatsoever.” Readers of Brooklyn’s Hasidic paper Der Tzitung will, however, be none the wiser: both Clinton and director of counterterrorism Audrey Tomason were cut from Der Tzitung’s pic. The ultra-Orthodox paper won’t print photos of women, which it considers “sexually suggestive”—something even Clinton can agree the photo most certainly is not.

How To Max Out Your Credit Card 101

Donald Trump has been named in a lawsuit alleging his “Trump University” is a scam. The $1,500 course promised students “insider” knowledge and a shot at being Trump’s “next apprentice.” But the bombastic mogul’s students say the course was essentially an “infomercial,” pushing them to spend $35,000 for the “Trump gold elite” course. “I bought into it because of the Trump name,” lead plaintiff Tarla Makaeff told the San Fran­cisco Chronicle. “I thought, ‘It’s got to be legit.’ ” Instead, Makaeff, a fashion designer, learned techniques like stapling “bandit” signs to telephone poles advertising homes for sale—which is illegal where she lives—and how to up her credit card limits. New York media weren’t exactly shocked to learn Trump’s university isn’t what it appears: “Swindled by Donald Trump! Imagine that!” was the title of a post on Gawker, a media-focused blog. “Trump University shockingly sued for Trump-ness,” wrote the Gothamist.

Joy ride

Did you know riding an ice floe was illegal? Eighteen-year-old Alaska high school student Michael Poland, who’s never even had a speeding ticket, found out the hard way this week after jumping on the ice along the Chena River outside Fairbanks, with friends. After being rescued, Poland was cuffed, charged with disorderly conduct, and spent the night in jail.