Newsmakers: July 12-19, 2012

The Vatican’s whistle-blower, Katy Perry’s lingerie hazard and yet another gaffe from Tony Clement


J. Scott Applewhite/AP

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Pray for deliverance

The old saw that “no man is a hero to his valet” would seem to apply to Paolo Gabriele, the butler to Pope Benedict XVI, who appears to have serious doubts about the Vatican’s business dealings, if not about the pontiff himself. Gabriele is locked in a 3.5-by-four-metre police “safe room,” accused of stealing and leaking documents to Italian media that expose dubious dealings by the Vatican bank, rivalries among cardinals, and alleged corruption. A prosecutor refused his request to be moved to house arrest while the investigation continues, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told reporters. “Paolo is serene and finds comfort in prayer,” Gabriele’s lawyer, Paolo Fusco said. He is already charged with aggravated theft. Offences such as revealing state secrets are under consideration.

And 99 per cent rat-free

After a sale fell through on a “lovely little home” on Douglas Avenue in St. John, N.B., real estate agent Jake Palmer faced the challenge of reintroducing it to the market. With the agreement of the owners, he attached a “rider” sign under his ReMax lawn sign reading “indoor plumbing.” That drew attention and chuckles, so Palmer upped the ante with a rider that said: “not haunted.” The stunt went viral online. “The truth will disappoint those of you hoping that the house had recently undergone an exorcism or deliverance,” said the website Extraordinary Intelligence. Sorry, never was haunted, said Palmer, who just hopes the next buyer doesn’t dematerialize.


A seven-year-old Calgary drummer took his self-taught skills on an international tour last Tuesday. Jaxon Smith appeared on NBC’s Today show in New York City and rocked to a recording of The Pretender by the Foo Fighters. His appearance comes after a YouTube video his father posted went viral, now closing in on 500,000 views. “I have like 30 years more of drumming,” he said. “And then I can be a hockey player.”

A shot for freedom

At the end of this month, 19-year-old shooter Bahiya al-Hamad will become one of the first female athletes from Qatar to compete in the Olympics. She’ll also be the one to carry the country’s flag at the Games’ opening ceremony in London. It’s a task she’s delighted with. Much like Saudi Arabia’s, Qatar’s recent decision to allow female athletes to compete is a revolutionary one.

Non-motorized treats are fine

Katy Perry’s “spinning peppermint bra” will spin no longer. Once a fixture of the pop star’s concert act, the novelty lingerie item—which literally spins in rapid circles on Perry’s chest—was retired last week after an unfortunate incident. “My hair got caught in the wheels of my bra,” said Perry, “and began to coil around and around.” Tour insurers have requested that Perry refrain from wearing the spinning bra for safety reasons. It isn’t the only peculiar piece of lingerie in her wardrobe: Perry is also known to don a bikini top that squirts whipped cream, and a bra with candy canes hanging from each cup.

Seeing red where there’s none

There’s hyper-partisan, and then there’s plain ridiculous. Sun TV gadfly Ezra Levant blundered across that line this week with an attack on Stephen Wicary, a former online editor with the Globe and Mail who is moving to Cuba. “So the editor who hated Stephen Harper’s abuse of democracy is apparently fine with how the Castro brothers run the joint, fine enough to live there,” Levant said. He neglected to mention Wicary was following his wife, who has taken a position in Cuba with the aid agency CARE Canada. Wicary pointed out on Twitter that the Harper government was that week celebrating the life Dr. Norman Bethune—an actual Communist who joined the Maoists in China. Enter Tony Clement, Canada’s tweeting treasury board president, who is evidently susceptible to the same frailty as Levant. “My point was to celebrate things other than [Bethune’s] Communism,” he typed in a puzzling response to Wicary. “You chose to live in a Communist country. Big difference.”

Consider him reclaimed

When the Toronto Blue Jays acquired Edward Encarnacion in a 2009 trade with Cincinnati, the player was considered a reclamation project. But three seasons later, the 29-year-old Dominican has blossomed into one of baseball’s best sluggers. During the all-star break the team rewarded him with a three-year, $27-million contract extension. And once play resumed, the first baseman celebrated by smacking two home runs—his 24th and 25th of the year—in a 11-9 win over Cleveland.

School’s out

Princess Eugenie graduated from Newcastle University last week, receiving a degree in English and art history. The daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah, duchess of York, and sixth in line to the throne, spoke fondly of her time at university and said she will particularly miss sharing a house with seven girls—a situation she may never find herself in again.

Drake and Feist in a cage match

The 10-artist shortlist for the Polaris Music Prize was announced on Tuesday, featuring mainstream stars like Feist and Drake alongside previous winner F–ked Up, Edmonton’s former poet laureate Cadence Weapon, and upstart newcomers who no one outside of über-geek circles had even heard of 12 months ago, like Grimes, Cold Specks and Yamantaka Sonic Titan. All nominees get $2,000; the winner, which is decided by an 11-member jury at the Sept. 24 gala, will take home $30,000. Nominee Kathleen Edwards tweeted, “I’m over the moon. Love my country. Love being part of something here. Gonna buy an air conditioner with my $2,000 Polaris money.”

Not racist, technically

A British court acquitted soccer star John Terry of charges that he racially abused a rival during a match last October. It didn’t exactly restore his reputation. The Chelsea captain admitted to calling Anton Ferdinand, a black player for Queen’s Park Rangers, something totally unprintable, but claimed he only repeated the phrase in a “No, I never called you a . . . ” context. After four days of hearings, chief magistrate Howard Riddle ruled that it was impossible to determine whether the vile language was intended as an insult, and, “There being a doubt, the only verdict the court can record is one of not guilty.” Now the English Football Association gets to start its own inquiry.

When in Menlo Park

Yoga and cellphones don’t mix. That was Alice Van Ness’s mantra—and it cost her a job with the world’s most famous social networking website. Van Ness, who was hired to teach yoga classes at Facebook Inc.’s Menlo Park campus in northern California, was fired for giving a “disapproving” look to a Facebook employee who flouted her no-cellphones-in-class rule. According to Van Ness, the employee was typing on her phone while Van Ness was teaching a difficult yoga pose. Van Ness shot her the look and was fired by the health club two weeks later. Facebook has declined to comment.

Frankly, Scarlett . . .

Scarlett Johansson recently complained she has lost some meaty roles because directors deemed her too sexy for the parts. Rumour has it she may avenge that indignity with a massive bump in pay for reprising her role as the Black Widow in the planned sequel to The Avengers, for which the New York Post claims she will rake in as much as US$20 million. If so, it will be the highest gross ever for an actress, topping the US$19 million Angelina Jolie snagged for The Tourist. A representative for Johansson told E! News she has no knowledge of the monster payday. Sounds as if the Black Widow is preparing for some bare-knuckle negotiations.

He was a good listener, too

Charlie Ziegler didn’t get along very well with his family, but when they didn’t hear from him for more than a year, they called the authorities. Police in Jackson, Mich., went to his home and found the mummified remains of the 72-year-old propped in an armchair in front of the TV. Linda Chase, Ziegler’s roommate, told investigators the man had died of natural causes months ago, but she kept him dressed and cleaned and that they would watch NASCAR races together. While Chase admits she cashed his pension cheques, it wasn’t about the money. “I didn’t want to be alone,” she told the local paper. “He was the only guy who was ever nice to me.”

Give the people what they want

During a basketball game in Washington, Barack Obama caused an uproar when he greeted the “kiss camera” with a moderate smile. The audience erupted in a chorus of heartfelt boos. During half-time, Obama’s position on kiss-cams evolved, and he planted a solid smooch on the first lady.