NEWSMAKERS

October 29 2007

NEWSMAKERS

October 29 2007

NEWSMAKERS

IT FEELS LIKE THE GODDESS OF EVEREST IS BEi IS TRAINING TO BECOME THE OLDEST MAI

JONNY WILKINSON

THE GOLDEN BOOT CONQUERS FRANCE

England has a new king of kicks, and in a far tougher sport. The country’s appearance in this week-end’s final of the Rugby World Cup against South Africa’s Springboks is thanks to the golden boot of Jonny Wilkinson. The 28-year-old fly-half nailed a penalty and then a match-sealing drop goal in the final five minutes of an upset 14-9 semifinal win over France last Saturday. Many had thought his career was all but over: injuries had kept Wilkinson out of an England uniform for almost three years, while an ankle injury benched him for the squad’s first two matches this year. But when it counted, Wilkinson booted 24 points against Samoa, then all 12 of England’s points in a quarter-final game against Australia. Despite now being the tournament’s all-time leading scorer, he has work ahead. The Springboks gave a 36-O beating to a Wilkinsonless England in the opening round.

EHUD OLMERT

CONFRONTING THE ROT WITHIN

Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is on a roll. He now faces a third criminal inquiry into his conduct before he became PM. In the latest case, Olmert is suspected of appointing allies and granting political favours back when he was industry and trade minister. He is already under investigation for a bank privatization deal in 2005 in which several top-ranking government officials were arrested on suspicion of bribery. And then there’s a real-estate deal in which Olmert purchased a house in Jerusalem priced well below market value. He’s not the only one in trouble. Israel’s expresident Moshe Katsav has just struck a plea bargain to avoid rape charges, and is due to be charged with lesser offences and could face a suspended sentence. Despite daily headlines featuring corruption at near-epidemic proportions, the nation’s politicians, including Olmert, appear to have their sights perpetually set on external military conflicts, showing they have little time to wage a war on corruption at home.

TAME ITI

THE FACE OF KIWI RADICALISM

He once shot a New Zealand flag placed on a sacred Maori site because, he said, he wanted to show the outrage that Maoris felt when Europeans first interloped on their South Pacific « islands. Tame Iti, his face fearsomely^ tattooed with traditional Maori designs, is known for his flair for aggressive protest. Last weekend, Iti became involved in something much more serious when he and at least a score of others were arrested in a massive police sweep. New Zealand authorities had been watching military-style training camps for a year. Then they struck, invoking the Terrorism Suppression Act for the first time. Iti turned up in court Monday on weapons charges after police uncovered guns, Molotov cocktails and napalm. What he had been doing wasn’t immediately clear, but one report suggested that Prime Minister Helen Clark may have been a target.

SAM KATZ

TROUBLE ON A PRAIRIE BASEBALL DIAMOND

The minor league Winnipeg Goldeyes are beloved by their city: they lead baseball’s Northern League in attendance. Paradoxically, they have financial difficulties. One of the owners, Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz, says that Crocus Investment Fund, an investment pool now in receivership, is demanding $305,000 in interest that has accrued on capital that it sunk into the team. Katz’s lawyer says the Crocus funds were an equity investment, not a loan, and a covenant prevents the Goldeyes from paying out funds to Crocus investors without paying out to Katz and another partner too, and that’s beyond the financial means of the Goldies. Despite local popularity, the team’s prospects are dim: the Northern league is shrinkf|j# ing, down from 12 clubs in 2005 to just six.

Canthe Goldeyes survive? Winni-

peggers are rooting for it.

[ONING ME BACK’-AT 74, JAPAN’S YUICHIRO MIURA VER TO CLIMB THE WORLD’S HIGHEST MOUNTAIN

BHAVNA TALWAR COURTROOM DRAMA OVER A MOVIE

Just as Bollywood was gaining popularity in the West, India’s film industry suffered a blow to its prestige last week. Director Bhavna Talwar went to court, complaining that her acclaimed film Dharm was overlooked for India’s nomination for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars. The Indian selection committee instead went with perennial favourite Vidhu Vinod Chopra and his period epic Eklavya: The Royal Guard. There is the possibility that some of the jury members had close ties to Chopra. “I’ve seen Eklavya. I was bored,” said Talwar. As the court reviews the grievance, Hollywood reprimanded India’s decision to bring a legal body into an aesthetic matter. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences asked the Indians to make a firm decision or risk being shut out of this year’s Academy Awards.

YUICHIRO MIURA THE OLD MAN AND THE MOUNTAIN

At 74, he hikes around Tokyo carrying a 10-kg pack. Yuichiro Miura has a purpose: to reclaim his standing as the oldest man ever to scale Mount Everest. He gained the title in 2003 at age 70, snatching it from a 65-year-old. But earlier this year, a 71-yearold dethroned him. Miura is confident he can get it back. After all, he skied down 29,000-ft. Everest in 1970, a feat that was filmed and became an Oscar-winning movie. His dad skied down Mount Blanc at age 99“It feels like the goddess of Everest is beckoning me back,” Miura says. He will make his next climb in May, after he turns 75How long can Miura hold the title? American Dick Bass is said to be planning an ascent À next year when he turns 78.

CHRIS PINE YOUNG CAPTAIN KIRK: ONE TO BEAM UP

A relative unknown until now, actor Chris Pine has been tapped to boldly go where no man— except William Shatner—has gone before. Pine, 27, will play young Captain Kirk in a Star Trek “prequel.” Shatner originated the role in the television series from 1966 to 1969. Trekkies believe the new Trek movie (the llth to date) will focus on Kirk’s early days at Starfleet Academy with Spock (Heroes star Zachary Quinto). The two will face off against Nero, a villain played by Eric Bana. The role’s a huge break for Pine, whose most prominent role to date was playing Lindsay Lohan’s arm candy in Just My Luck. But the actor’s star has been rising—he has been in negotiations to appear with George Clooney in an adaptation of the novel White Jazz (with Pine’s acceptance of the Kirk role, his participation is unclear). In the world of Star Trek, space is the final frontier. But for Chris Pine, it’s only the beginning.

LAURA BUSH

BURMA’S FRIEND IN A HIGH PLACE

As Western nations this week agreed to strengthen sanctions against the military junta in Burma, the nation had an overlooked champion working behind the scenes. U.S. First Lady Laura Bush has been following the cause of the democratic opposition for years. Although she’s otherwise shown little interest in foreign policy issues, Bush became interested in Burma after reading the memoirs of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. “It’s the one foreign policy issue she’s really spoken out on,” says Victor Cha, a former White House Asian affairs specialist. And she has President Bush’s support. She lobbied him on sanctions, condemned Burma in a Wall StreetJournal opinion piece, and gave speeches at universities. No one has been able to dislodge Burma’s military, but having the first lady for a friend can’t help but hearten the Burmese.