Newsmakers: Oct.6-Oct.13, 2011

Shakira shakes it all the way to the white house, Kanye gets roasted, and Christy Clark’s cleavage controversy


Kristy Sparow/Getty Images

The hockey nudes

Vancouver Canucks centre Ryan Kesler drew catcalls from his teammates after appearing nude in the annual “Body Issue” of ESPN The Magazine. “Jealousy. That’s all they’ve got is jealousy,” said Kesler, who joined athletes ranging from NBA power forward Blake Griffin to female soccer player Hope Solo in baring all—“tastefully,” as the euphemism goes—for the publication. At least ESPN didn’t shoot goaltender Roberto Luongo, Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa told the Vancouver Sun. “I don’t care how good technology is these days, there’s a lot of hair on that body.”

A Swank affair

Chechen Republic President Ramzan Kadyrov insists it wasn’t a birthday party—it’s pure coincidence that a glitzy celebration with Hollywood stars coincided with his 35th birthday. Kadyrov, a former warlord who has become a client of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, was able to convince action hero Jean-Claude Van Damme and Oscar winner Hilary Swank to come to the Chechen capital of Grozny, supposedly to fete the city’s 193rd anniversary. The extravagant Kadyrov has brought peace, but not affluence, to the turbulent republic; Russia is said to have bankrolled the party, which suffered from a late PR-motivated cancellation by singer Shakira. Asked about the funding, Kadyrov said, “I don’t know, it comes from somewhere.”

Sean, Kanye, meet karma

He’ll always be the most controversial man in hockey—so long as he can stay in hockey. Sean Avery, the outspoken 31-year-old winger who has clashed with fans, reporters, hockey executives and pretty much everyone else, was sent down to the AHL’s Connecticut Whale last week. “We have better players than Sean Avery right now,” New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella told journalists. The diminutive forward, once voted the NHL’s most hated player, got rare positive press in the off-season for supporting gay marriage in New York. His agent said he would even consider playing in Europe rather than Hartford. Speaking of loudmouths getting their comeuppance, Kanye West launched his career as a designer at Paris Fashion Week, in one of the fashion season’s most hyped shows. Well before the reviews came out, West, seemingly aware the critics would not be kind, gave a vulgar speech, bitterly complaining that his attempt to become a serious fashion designer was being treated as a joke. “I gave you everything I had,” he said, in what the New York Times noted was one of his few printable remarks. Indeed, his designs were roundly panned, and he received “tepid” applause from his hand-picked audience. When pressed for comment, Vogue editrix Anna Wintour—not known for holding back—said, “Ask someone else.”

Political cleavage takes on a whole new meaning When Christy Clark addressed the legislature wearing a blazer and a slightly low-cut blouse, Twitter mostly ignored politics and concentrated on fashion. David Schreck, pundit and former NDP politician, wrote that the B.C. premier’s “cleavage-revealing attire” was not “appropriate dress for the legislature.” Schreck countered accusations of sexism by saying, “I wouldn’t recommend going to a job interview like that.” The controversy comes a month after the House of Commons photoshopped new MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan’s parliamentary photo to eliminate all traces of cleavage. Speaking of chasms, a new Ipsos poll puts B.C.’s governing Liberals seven points behind the NDP—the “crack of doom,” according to the Vancouver Province. With the NDP now in majority government territory, it’s clear why Clark pulled the plug on plans for a fall election.

CanLit smackdown

The adage that there’s no such thing as bad publicity is being tested in Toronto. Local author Ling Zhang has been accused by three writers of plagiarism. CanLit heavyweights Wayson Choy, Sky Lee and Paul Yee sent a legal notice to Zhang’s publisher alleging possible copyright infringement in her forthcoming novel Gold Mountain Blues. They want to delay the Oct. 18 publication date so the book can be reviewed independently. Penguin Canada refused, saying the authors had a chance to vet their concerns weeks ago, when they were sent advance copies. One response from the complainants, however, did arrive, said Penguin: a request for an invitation to the launch party. Reality is, indeed, stranger than fiction.

Shakira’s new gig How do you get a classroom full of kids to pay attention? A hip-shaking, yodelling young blond would surely help. That must be the thinking behind the Obama administration’s newest addition: Shakira. The Latina singer has been awarded a spot on the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. This isn’t her first educational gig. Shakira’s own foundation has funded schools in Haiti, South Africa and Columbia. “Latino youth are the fastest-growing group in America, yet more Latino children are living in poverty than children of any other ethnic group,” she told the Huffington Post. “The only road out of poverty is education.” Palin’s new gig: saving the world

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin announced that she will not run for the presidency in 2012, ending (or, more likely, slightly diminishing) feverish speculation about her intentions and scrutiny of her personal life. In a letter to supporters, the failed VP candidate said she preferred to remain on the sidelines to “continue driving the discussion for freedom and free markets.” Her SarahPAC fund has a balance of $1.4 million, money she intends to use to “save our nation from the road to European socialism.” A recent biography of Palin, Joe McGinnis’s The Rogue, stirred rumours of a premarital fling with basketball player Glen Rice and revived awkward questions about her gubernatorial career.

You lose some, you win some

The Harper government drew criticism for awarding patronage jobs to losing Conservative parliamentary candidates, such as a $135,000-a-year sinecure for Nova Scotia’s Cecil Clarke and an adviser job for Montrealer Saulie Zajdel. Clarke, who narrowly lost to Liberal Mark Eyking in Sydney-Victoria, will serve in the newly created position of “senior executive adviser” to Cape Breton County Economic Development; his salary is being paid by a federal Crown corporation. Zajdel, who ran strongly against Grit Irwin Cotler in Mount Royal, will be “going out into the community” and reporting on regional concerns to Heritage Minister James Moore. But at least one bounced Tory is sticking to the private sector. Former foreign affairs minister Lawrence Cannon, a non-lawyer, will join Canadian law firm Gowlings as a “strategic adviser.”

Play hard. (Stay safe.)

Record-setting Canadian soccer player Christine Sinclair has been chosen to carry the country’s flag in Guadalajara, Mexico, at the opening of the Pan Am Games on Oct. 14. Sinclair, who led Canada to a bronze at the 2007 Pan Ams, told reporters her grandmother’s advice on flag-bearing technique: “Don’t trip.” Other athletes may be worried about bigger dangers than stumbling. At the ceremony where Sinclair was presented, the team’s chef de mission Jacques Cardyn felt a need to reassure competitors (and their parents) that the team wouldn’t be caught up in any drug wars. “There’s people in Mexico from Internal Affairs working with us,” he noted. Crystal clear People laughed, literally, at Israeli engineer Dan Shechtman when he reported the existence of metal alloys that formed “quasicrystal” patterns at the molecular level. But Shechtman, winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in chemistry, is having the last laugh. The professor at Haifa’s prestigious Technion was on leave in the U.S. in 1982 when he observed something that the textbooks said was impossible in nature: a crystal with an “aperiodic” structure. Even his own original notes state, “There can be no such creature,” and his report was widely, even bitterly derided. But today, quasicrystals are known to be quite common, and the Nobel win increased Shechtman’s bank balance by $1.5 million. Harry keeps up tradition in Vegas As if he needs to cement his reputation as a rollicking playboy, Prince Harry arrived in Las Vegas “to party” for 48 hours during a break from a 12-week military helicopter training course. Lest royal watchers tsk-tsk, one military source reassured them Sin City is a “traditional” pit stop, adding,“The course is pretty intense. This is a chance for the pilots to let their hair down, kick back and enjoy themselves.” Prince Harry will likely feel right at home.

When Chávez loves your house

For the first time, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez is expropriating private homes, part of his latest round of nationalizations targeting Los Roques, a chic Caribbean island chain. Chávez denounced the islands’ “supposed landowners” (the “upper bourgeoisie”) and announced that he would open them up to fishing and tourism for regular Venezuelans.

Love, love me do

Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney married American heiress Nancy Shevell in a low-key ceremony in London this week. Ringo Starr, the only other surviving member of the Fab Four, attended the wedding, described by the bride’s cousin, broadcaster Barbara Walters, as “beautiful and wonderful.”

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.