NEWSMAKERS

'I WOULDN’T EVEN WANT TO KNOW WHATHE INSURANCE WOULD BE. I PROBABLY COULDN’T AFFORD THAT.’-LOUIE EDGI HAS REASONS FOR TURNING DOWN A MILLION-DOLLAR AUTOMOBILE

December 8 2008
NEWSMAKERS

'I WOULDN’T EVEN WANT TO KNOW WHATHE INSURANCE WOULD BE. I PROBABLY COULDN’T AFFORD THAT.’-LOUIE EDGI HAS REASONS FOR TURNING DOWN A MILLION-DOLLAR AUTOMOBILE

December 8 2008

'I WOULDN’T EVEN WANT TO KNOW WHATHE INSURANCE WOULD BE. I PROBABLY COULDN’T AFFORD THAT.’-LOUIE EDGI HAS REASONS FOR TURNING DOWN A MILLION-DOLLAR AUTOMOBILE

NEWSMAKERS

MOHAMED ALI ALABBAR IS DUBAI ABOUT TO FALL?

Amid the global financial crisis, leaders of the Gulf emirate of Dubai continued to insist that it was an oasis of prosperity. But by the weekend that oasis was looking parched: the United Arab Emirates government moved to shore up Dubai’s real estate and banking sectors by merging the two largest mortgage companies with two federally owned banks. Mohamed Ali Alabbar, chief executive of Ernaar Properties and a member of Dubai’s executive council, called a rare press conference to discuss the emirate’s finances. He revealed that the state and its companies owe US$80 billion. But, he added, that should be measured against an asset base of $1.3 trillion. Falling stock prices are undermining wealth, and the value of Dubai’s real estate may need discounting. The CEO of a prominent property contractor warned projects must be halted but companies are in denial about circumstances. Allabar will only allow that it would do the Dubai economy good to “take a breather.”

CINDY CRAWFORD FIT, FORTYISH AND STILL FABULOUS

One of the six original supermodels who shot to fame in the 1990s, Cindy Crawford, now 42, bristles at the idea she’s staging a comeback. Even so, Crawford— looking sultry and svelte as ever—is set to stun in the November issue ofFrench Vogue. Despite her recent absence from modelling (her Revlon contract expired eight years ago), it’s not as though she’s thrown in the towel: Crawford’s been hard at work on other projects such as fitness videos and a skin-care line, not to mention raising two kids. Yet she still finds time to work out (lots of time, judging from the Vogue photo shoot), giving her an athletic form in sharp contrast to the waifish, size-zero models of today. Crawford isn’t alone among the Big Six in staging a return: Claudia Schiffer, Christy Turlington (above) and others will be decorating newsstands and billboards in months to come. “The baby boomers are getting older. They like see ing our familiar faces again, because it makes them feel

good about themselves,”

Crawford says.

LOUIE EDGI

NICE CAR, BUT NO THANKS

Who could turn down a $ 1-million sports car? Northwest Territories resident Louie Edgi did, and with good reason. After winning a Swedish-made Koenigsegg CCX, which can accelerate to 400 km per hour, the Imperial Oil employee opted to take cash instead—largely because there’d be nowhere to drive it. Edgi’s town of Norman Wells, about 680 km northwest of Yellowknife, has just one stretch of road, he says, and no highways into town. (He drives a pickup.) Edgi, 37, who suffers from a brain tumour, bought the winning ticket while in Edmonton for radiation treatment. “It was going to a good cause,” he says (the Cash and Cars Lottery supports the Alberta Cancer Foundation and Canadian Cancer Society). Edgi and his wife plan to move to the Edmonton area once their kids, ages 5 and 7, are older; they’ll use the prize money to buy a house, he says. And while the car was tempting, “I wouldn’t even want to know what the insurance would be,” he says. “I probably couldn’t afford that.”

THE KARMAPA

THE BATTLE FOR TIBET’S MORAL VOICE

A 23-year-old Tibetan known for his intelligence is a likely candidate to succeed the Dalai Lama. After being recognized by China’s Communists, the Karmapa escaped Tibet in 2000 to Dharamsala, India, where the Dalai Lama has made his home-in-exile since China annexed Tibet in the 1950s. The Karmapa’s escape was a huge embarrassment for Beijing. The Dalai Lama recently met with nearly 600 exiled Tibetans to determine how they would fill the leadership role after his death. At 73, the Dalai Lama has been in poor health, and a smooth succession is essential to answer Chinese plans for mounting a successor of their own. In 1995, the Dalai Lama chose six-yearold Gendun Choekyi Nyima as the Panchen Lama—but the boy disappeared. The Chinese appointed their own choice. If the Karmapa becomes regent in India, beyond Beijing’s reach, it will be a second embarrassment for Beijing. A battle for Tibet’s moral voice is beginning.

HUANG GUANGYU THE ‘PRICE BUTCHER' VANISHES

China’s second-richest man, Huang Guangyu, chairman of China’s largest home appliance chain, has vanished amid reports that he is being investigated by police for possible securities fraud. Other reports suggest that the 39-year-old, who is worth an estimated US$2.7 billion according to Forbes, is being questioned about possible illegal trading in a Shanghai-listed pharmaceutical firm controlled by his brother. The uncertainty about the whereabouts of the man nicknamed “the Price Butcher” has been magnified by rumours that his wife and one of his top financial officers left the country to avoid detention. Huang’s company, Gome, claims it 55 has not heard from him -in days. The Hong Kong-listed company put a halt on the trading of its shares Monday. In 2006, Huang and his brother were investigated for alleged financial irregularities in a real estate loan. He was cleared of any wrongdoing but has been under a watchful eye ever since.

ANDREW MAKONI AND IRENE PETRAS

BAPTISM OF FEAR

Zimbabwean human rights lawyers Andrew Makoni and Irene Petras dedicated their lives to the high-risk business of defending victims of state-endorsed persecution when rising violations became difficult to ignore. But it wasn’t until Makoni and a colleague were arrested in May 2007 for representing political activists accused of terrorism that they gained a unique understanding of what their clients experience. “The arrest and detention was the baptism,” says Makoni, who was held for days without access to lawyers or proper food. Petras was among ¡ several lawyers assaulted while launching a petition ’ ; in their defence. Last week

i-1 they came to Canada to

represent Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, winner of the 2008 John Humphrey Freedom Award given by Rights & Democracy, a Canadian advocacy group. “You have to speak out,” says Petras. “Otherwise things will never change.”

SARAH SYMONDS HAS A MISTRESS COOKED CHEF’S GOOSE?

British adultery entrepreneur Sarah Symonds is back in the headlines as the alleged sevenyear mistress of potty-mouthed TV chef Gordon Ramsay. The 38-year-old parlayed her 2001 affair with jailbird Tory politician/ novelist Jefïrey Archer into Having An Affair? A Handbook For The Other Woman, which landed her on Oprah and as a “relationship expert” for AshleyMadison.com, a dating website for people looking for affairs.

The 42-year-old Ramsay, a father of four famed for his familial devotion, refuses to comment and on the weekend he posed for press photographers next to his wife of 12 years, cookbook author Tana Ramsay. Symonds, who reportedly purchased potato chips and the sex drug amyl nitrate to fuel one luxuryhotel romp with Ramsay, is much less culinarily inclined, writing that “extra special sexual techniques in the bedroom” can compensate for bad cookery: “He will soon forget the absence of that bouquet garni in your coq au vin. Trust me!”

REYNALDO OLAZO

NEW POLICE RECRUIT IS AN OLD HAND

He’s been tasered and peppersprayed, and last week he stood tall and proud in his blue uniform and white gloves. At age 45, Reynaldo Olazo was the oldest recruit at the graduation ceremony for the Winnipeg Police Service. “Papa Rey,” as his younger classmates called him, was eager to his new career. In truth, he already has 23 years of policing experi-

ence in his native Philippines, where he worked for the national bureau of investigation as chief of security management and the witness protection program. After moving to Winnipeg in March 2007, he started working with the photo-radar enforcement unit, but now he’s ready for new challenges. Although his adopted home has one of the highest crime rates of any city in Canada, Olazo seems unfazed. “The crime is not that bad. At home, the crime is more terrible. The way I see it, Canada is a place that offers good opportunity for people.” f Constable Olazo: Winnipeg can use you.