NEWS MAKERS

January 22 2007

NEWS MAKERS

January 22 2007

NEWS MAKERS

WE'RE HEADING TOWARD SOCIALISM,AND NOTHING AND NO ONE CAN PREVENT IT'-VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ,ANNOUNCING PLANS TO NATIONALIZE THE COUNTRY'S UTILITIES

ANGELINA JOLIE

WAL-MART GETS A CELEBRITY GREETER

Last week, a Miami gallery unveiled Blessed Art Thou, a painting featuring Angelina Jolie in a Virgin Mary-like pose. The artist depicts Jolie floating on a bed of clouds, aglow in sunlight and cradling her daughter Shiloh. Her other children, Maddox and Zahara, nude, winged and appropriately cherubic, cling to her legs. Underneath them is a depiction of a Wal-Mart checkout aisle (overweight American shoppers included). The painting—on sale for US$50,000may soon be dated. Jolie and Brad Pitt are thinking of adding to their family. But the baby certainly won’t be from Malawi. Jolie is quoted in Gala taking a swipe at Madonna, who brought home a boy from Malawi last year. “I prefer staying on the right side of the law. I would never bring back a child from a country where adoption is illegal.”

CAREY PRICE

THE PRICE WAS RIGHT FOR TEAM CANADA

When Carey Price, of tiny Anahim Lake, B.C., first started playing hockey, the nearest team was in Williams Lake, B.C., a 640-km round trip. So his dad Jerry bought a $13,000 plane to cut down the travel time. It paid off. The Montreal Canadiens’ firstround draft pick in 2005 allowed only seven goals during the World Junior Hockey Championship in Sweden, finishing up last week with a stunning 96 per cent save percentage. “The guy that was our most important player the whole tournament came through for us,” says head coach Craig Hartsburg of Price. The 19-year-old led Canada to a gold medal—the country’s third straight under-20 title—and was selected the tournament MVP, as well as the tournament’s top goalie. In the second period of the championship, with his club fighting off a power play and a surging Russian team that had cut Canada’s lead to 4 to 2, Price stoned one of the surging forwards with a tricky toe save—icing Russia’s momentum.

ROBERT NARDELLI

A DIAMOND-STUDDED PLATINUM PARACHUTE

After six tumultuous years as Home Depot’s CEO, Robert Nardelli abruptly resigned last week. Unlike other aging baby boomers, this 58-year-old won’t have to worry about nailing down another late-career job. Ever. His severance package from the homeimprovement giant topped out at US$210 million—US$96,000 for every day on the job. That’s on top of the US$120 million he earned in salary and bonuses. Not bad considering that Home Depot’s share price dropped nearly eight per cent during his tenure. Sales and profits have also dropped, and Home Depot faces increased competition and is under investigation for how its stock options were awarded. Shareholders’ anger at the board has been building since last year’s annual meeting—Nardelli was the only board member to make an appearance, but he refused to answer questions. Once Nardelli left the building, the stock price

ASHA-ROSE MIGIRO

A JOB WITH A LOT OF PRESSURE

Tanzania’s foreign minister AshaRose Migiro has been named the United Nations’ new deputy secretary-general by the organization’s newly appointed leader, Ban Ki-moon. The announcement came amid intense pressure to include more black Africans and women in top UN positions. Ban called Migiro, who previously served as Tanzania’s minister for community development, gender and children’s affairs from 2000 to dk 2005, “a highly respected leader who has championed the cause of devel\ \ oping countries over ' the years.” In addition to socio-economic and development issues, Migiro will face the challenge of managing the administration of the UN, which has come under fire in recent years for numerous sex and corruption scandals. She will be the second woman to hold the title—the first was Montrealborn Louise Fréchette, who stepped down last spring

EHUD BARAK A FAMILIAR FACE JOINS THE RACE

Ehud Barak, who holds Israel’s record for the shortest time as prime minister (22 months), announced that he will run for the leadership of the centre-left Labor party in May. When announcing his intentions, Barak, who served as the military’s chief of staff until 1995 and is one of Israel’s most decorated soldiers, emphasized the shaky state of the Israel Defense Forces following last summer’s war in Lebanon. It’s a bit of a gamble, since some blame Barak for that war, believing that his 2000 withdrawal of the IDF from southern Lebanon eroded Israel’s traditional power of deterrence. Then there’s his other unfortunate legacy— the second intifada started while he was in charge. But Barak has clout among Labor’s senior ranks, and rather than sell himself as the future PM, Barak is first aiming to replace embattled Labor Leader Amir Peretz, who’s also defence minis ter in Ehud Olmert’s coalition government “I made many mistakes,” he says. “Today I know that there K tugare no shortcuts.” JHL «ji

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HUGO CHAVEZ FOLLOWING IN FIDEL’S FOOTSTEPS

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez announced plans to nationalize the country’s electrical and telecommunications companies this week, evoking memories of Fidel Castro’s Cuban revolution. The 52-year-old, who won last month’s election with nearly 63 per cent of the vote after promising to create a more socialist state, made the announcement after swearing in his third-term cabinet (his election win guarantees him the presidency until 2013). Chávez also spoke about eliminating the autonomy of the central bank, and he plans to ask the National Assembly to give him powers to legislate by presidential decree. As well, he says, all lucrative foreign-owned business— specifically the oil projects in the Orinoco River basin—should be nationalized. “We are in an existential moment of Venezuelan life,” says Chávez. “We’re heading toward socialism, and nothing and no f one can prevent it.”

ESFANDIAR RAHIMMASHAEI

CAUGHT WITH HER VEIL DOWN

Iranian Vice-President Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei took some heat after a video surfaced that showed him at a ceremony in Istanbul watching and applauding women dancing without veils—a big nono under Iran’s Islamic laws. He dismissed the video, which was posted on an Iranian news website, as a “smear campaign” brought against him by political opponents. An editor and a manager at the news agency that made the video public were thrown in jail for at least two days. In his own de fence, Rahim-Mashaei who is also head of cultural heritage, said that the event was an official cultural ceremony and that he didn’t know there would be dancing involved, claiming, “I was suddenly faced with a dance.” He says he left when the dancing started and the video was edited to give the impression he stayed for the entire ceremony. Just to be careful, Rahim-Mashaei had better get an advance program next time.

ARCHBISHOP STANISLAW WIELGUS

COMMUNIST PAST HAUNTS CLERIC

Minutes before what was to be his inauguration mass, the archbishop of Warsaw tearfully read aloud his resignation letter to Pope Benedict XVI. After initially denying links to Poland’s former Communist secret service, Stanislaw Wielgus admitted that he’d been a collaborator. A church historical commission found evidence that Wielgus had cooperated. The 67-year-old acknowledged that he had in fact signed a contract in 1978 promising to co-operate with the secret police in exchange for permission to leave Poland to study in West Germany, though Wielgus denied ever spying on anyone. His predecessor, Jozef Cardinal Glemp, will temporarily take over the job until the Vatican can find a new candidate—after a much tougher vetting, no doubt.